Fat cops to stop with fatcakes

2010-09-14 00:00

BULGING police officers might soon be biting into their last vetkoeks with all sorts of calorific fillings and other unhealthy foods if Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has his way. But cops have shot back, saying he must first lose his chubby cheeks.

Fed up by his forces’ fatty feeding habits, Mbalula yesterday ordered overweight cops to “shape up or ship out” in an outburst similar to commissioner General Bheki Cele’s “stomach in, chest out” command last year.

Mbalula said officers’ physiques are preventing them from doing their job properly.

“Some police officers decide to balloon in their physique immediately after leaving the training colleges.

“Those officers are no match compared to the criminals they are after.

“They must work on their weight,” Mbalula said at an anti-crime summit in Pretoria.

He said police officers cannot be busy “massaging beer bellies” when criminals are on the run.

Criminals are brutally killing police officers and private guards.

“The question then is … are you fit enough to fight them? If not, the police service is not for you. We need officers who can match criminals pound for pound.”

Police officers, who spoke to The Witness yesterday on condition on anonymity, disclosed what they put in their stomachs daily, and most confessed to not exercising regularly because of a lack of of keep- fit routines.

The fatty foods they consume include vetkoek, with fillings like mince, fried chips, cheese and polony. They said they also munch on braaied meat, biltong and burgers.

The members of the police force said that they also drink beer regularly when off duty.

Asked about Mbalula’s comments, a police officer in Ladysmith said that if Mbalula would leave the comfort of his cosy office for the line of duty, he would not say such “stupid” things.

“All he knows is to attend boring conferences while we have to deal with the devil’s flames chasing criminals of all sorts. What does he suggest we eat, green leaves and fruit?

“He is not an example himself. He needs to show us how it is done and lose his stomach and fatty cheeks,” said the police officer.

An officer in Elandskop in Pietermaritzburg said Mbalula’s comments are nonsense as there is no proper physical conditioning for police after their initial training.

“The only time we ever train [after graduation] is when we apply to be placed on border posts, but other than that we do nothing.”

Another officer said: “We don’t have any exercise programmes, but we have been informed that our senior officials will be monitoring whether we are losing or gaining weight.”

The officer said that if police are found to be gaining weight, they will be called in for a disciplinary hearing. “We don’t have any diet programmes as members of the SA Police Force, so members eat whatever they wish to eat,” he said.

Another local officer said he has just been to the gym because he needs to lose weight to avoid getting into trouble. The officer attributed some of his colleagues’ bulges to eating pap and vleis that they buy from street hawkers. He said they often gather at the stalls to get plates of their favourite foods.

Mbalula added that although it is not the norm, it is worrying that some police want to become “fat cats” by robbing and stealing, and failing to honour their oath.

“We are firing a warning shot at them. South Africa is not afraid of firing corrupt police.”

To civilians who bribe police officers, Mbalula said: “Your time will come too.”

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