News24

More dumbbells, less doughnuts

2010-03-22 16:16

Johannesburg - Huffing, puffing and doughnut-eating police officers should become a thing of the past after the launch of a national fitness campaign on Monday.

"This is a programme designed not only for our members to look good and feel good but, most importantly, it can one day help save a life in dangerous situations," said National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele in a statement.

He said all police employees would be encouraged to participate in exercise regimes and follow a healthy diet.

Cele said gym facilities at stations and training institutions would be improved.

The police service would also approach health-related service providers, such as gym owners, for discounted rates for police to use their facilities or products.

Twice a year, police would have to weigh in during fitness assessments.

Shoot less, run more

A toolkit for improving fitness would also be given to police.

"Today we are witnessing a giant leap in the implementation of a programme that will radically change the face of this organisation," said Cele.
 
Former flyweight boxer and one of the celebrity faces of the programme, Baby Jake Matlala told AP news agency that if police officers are fitter, South Africa will be a better country.

"I'm sure they'll shoot less and run more," he said.

Pull up their socks

Director Phil Vuma, who has been in the police force for 24 years, thinks the biggest benefit of the new fitness programme will be a shift in public perception, especially among criminals.

"Criminals are less likely to commit crime if they see the police force is lean and mean," Vuma said.

Christopher Snyman, a 23-year-old officer, is a year out of police training.

"A lot of police officers just need encouragement ... fitness should be part of the job description," he said.

Chubby police officials should "take a look in the mirror and pull up their socks," Snyman said. - Sapa and AP