Smokers 'will be forced to produce proof of purchase' if caught smoking

In the latest in a long list of measures that have sent smokers to the brink of insanity during the lockdown, Police Minister Bheki Cele has now said that if you are caught smoking in public, or even in your car, you will have to produce a receipt to prove that you purchased your cigarettes legally. 


He said that while you are more than welcome to puff away in the comfort of your own home, there will be repercussions for those who are found to be smoking unaccounted for cigarettes. 

Smokers must produce receipts


Speaking at a briefing on Friday 22 May, Cele said that the measure is clear and reasonable. 


"Alcohol is very clear, you go and read your regulations. Regulations say there shall be no transportation of alcohol … Whether it's in your basket, whether it's in your pocket, so long as you create some form of transport, you shall not be allowed," said Cele.


"It is not illegal to smoke cigarettes in your house. The only problem is when we find it in a car and you fail to show us where you did you get the cigarette … and when."


"If you say you have bought the cigarette, here is the receipt, we've got two options there: to get you, and go and get the person who sold the cigarette to you. But if the cigarette was there in your thousand looses and you're smoking in your home, really, we're not coming into your house and arrest you," said Cele.


He was coy regarding the possibility of cigarettes returning to the shelves, saying that it is beyond his remit to determine such changes to the Disaster Management Act. 


"I'm sure the announcement will be made. But Cele does not make announcements on those matters; the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] or the minister responsible for the regulations [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma] will. Just wait.


"Ours, as the police, is to enforce what would have been decided upon [about] cigarettes and alcohol. I might suspect what direction that decision might take, but it is not for me to make those announcements," he said.

DA demand retraction and apology  


The Democratic Alliance (DA) was infuriated by these suggestions. 


"At a press briefing on Friday 22 May, Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, announced that anyone found smoking in public would need to produce a receipt to prove when and where their cigarettes were purchased," bemoaned Andrew Whitfield, the DA's Shadow Minister of Police.


"There is no regulation making provision for any person to be compelled to provide proof of purchase for their cigarettes."


Whitfield demanded that Cele retract the suggestion and apologise to the nation, calling the latest comments "irrational and petty".


"These latest comments join a long list of irrational and petty Ministerial edicts which cause confusion in public and among the police officers deployed to enforce the regulations."


"The DA demands that the Minister publicly retract his comments and apologise to the nation."