JOHANNESBURG: Thieves in South Africa dug through a concrete floor into a shop to steal thousands of dollars worth of liquor days before an alcohol sales ban was lifted, police said on Tuesday.

The thieves made off with whisky, brandy, gin, vodka and beer valued at around $17,000.

Workers at the Shoprite supermarket in the Newtown district of Johannesburg discovered the heist when they went in last Friday to prepare for the resumption of sales on June 1.

Until Monday, alcohol sales were banned under South Africa’s strict lockdown regulations which came into effect on March 27. The ban was meant to ease pressure on emergency wards and prevent a feared spike in domestic violence.

“They discovered a big hole on the floor next to (a) fridge where it is suspected that suspects might have gained entry from tunnels underneath,” police spokesman Kay Makhubela said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2020