Cape Town – Several people have been arrested for allegedly disobeying the country’s lockdown rules that officially kicked in at midnight on Thursday.

South African Police Service (SAPS) raided taverns and clubs where a number of people gathered and were drinking in the early hours of Friday morning, said a SABC report.

Ramaphosa warned on Thursday that South Africa could have more than 1 500 confirmed coronavirus cases within the next few days.

Dressed in full SANDF gear, Ramaphosa addressed the nation and gave final orders to the troops who were deployed to the streets.

Ramaphosa said government was keeping the majority of the population indoors and it was the task of the SAPS and the SANDF to help curb the rising Covid-19 infection rate.”We are placing confidence and trust in all of you. In a few days, we could be at over 1 500. Our task is to minimise the infection rate,” he told the soldiers.

A deserted highway is seen in Cape Town, South Africa after South Africa went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days. Picture: AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that South Africa now has 927 confirmed coronavirus Covid-19 infections.

Ahead of the lockdown, Police Minister Bheki Cele warned of consequences for those who attempt to leave their homes, unless for essential purposes, such as buying groceries, seeking medical attention, collecting grants, buying medication, or emergencies.

A police officer chases a man who violated the lockdown downtown Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: AP Photo/Jerome Delay

Stores are not permitted to sell alcohol or cigarettes during the 21 days. Anyone who contravenes the lockdown regulations will be found guilty of a criminal offence and will be fined or jailed for a period not exceeding six months, or both.

Restaurants, clubs, taverns and bars must also be closed during this period, as they are not essential services.

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