Luanda (AFP) – Angola on Monday deployed a special police unit in armoured vehicles to patrol Luanda streets to enforce anti-coronavirus regulations as people continued to venture outside despite restrictions on movement.
President Joao Lourenco declared a state of emergency in the southwest African country last month to halt the spread of the deadly virus — banning travel, meetings and public activities with the aim of keeping people indoors.
But few have adhered to the new rules, prompting the government to reinforce patrols, rolling out its rapid intervention police force.
The special police unit, which is deployed in emergency situations, patrolled the seaside capital on Monday aboard black armoured vehicles.
“Security measures have been reinforced because the population has not conformed to the lockdown (implemented) under the state of emergency,” Luanda police spokesman Mateus Rodrigues said over national radio.
Angola has so far detected 14 cases of the novel coronavirus and recorded two deaths — a relatively low figure compared with other countries in the southern Africa region.
But governments across the continent have scrambled to shut their borders and restrict movement in a bid to prevent further spread.
On Friday, Interior Minister Eugenio Laborinho said the police were not out “to please (people) or to distribute chocolates”.
Despite the restrictions, many Angolans view earning money, finding food and fetching water as legitimate reasons to leave home.
“Police beat anyone who leaves the house without valid reason,” said Luanda resident Francisca Daniela.
“I was hit yesterday,” she complained. “The only reason I am still leaving (the house) today is because I have to buy something for my children to eat.”
Police have arrested several hundred people for defying the restrictions since the state of emergency came into effect
on March 27.