Coronavirus: Police Minister Cele pays tribute to officers on lockdown front line

2020-04-19 13:20

It was to be expected that police officers, who are at the frontline of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, would start testing positive for the virus, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Sunday, as he thanked them for their work during the coronavirus lockdown.

At the same time, he said he wanted police officers to be given the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need, and for the public to stay indoors to minimise any further spread of the virus.

"That there are a number of police members who have tested positive for the coronavirus is no anomaly, and it is for this reason that we are appealing to members of the public to do the right thing and stay home to protect our members who are out there on the streets, exposed and vulnerable to infection and spreading of the virus," Cele said.

The Athlone police station in Cape Town was one of the first to be affected by the pandemic, after one of its officers tested positive for the virus last Saturday.

The station was closed and colleagues on the same shift were tested.

READ | Cape Town cop tests positive for Covid-19, Athlone police station closed until Monday

The SA Police Service's (SAPS) Covid-19 National Steering Committee was working on prioritising the officers' health, and making sure that what they needed to do was not affected during the lockdown, Cele said.

He acknowledged that a few officers had been caught with their hands illegally in booze crates or involved in illicit purchases, but said the entire SAPS should not be judged by the actions of these few people.

The statement followed a meeting on Friday with Cele, Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale and representatives of SAPS, the South African Defence Force (SANDF), Metro Police departments and other law enforcement agencies in support of government’s efforts to combat Covid-19.

Cele condemned the acts of criminality "by a small percentage of members" and welcomed the arrest of these officers.

Tribute to fallen officers

"With us entering another two weeks of the lockdown, aptly extended by President Cyril Ramaphosa, I want to encourage the members on deployment to continue the good work of ensuring that our citizens are protected against the killer coronavirus, and that they do this within the confines of the law."

Cele also paid tribute to 33-year-old Constable Percy Ramalepe of Sandton Vispol, who was shot dead while responding to a complaint of domestic violence in Sandton on 9 April.

He was buried in Giyani on Saturday.

Sergeant Steven Damoense, 33, from the Northern Cape Organised Crime Unit was also buried on Saturday in Delportshoop.

He was on patrol on 30 March in Rietvale, Modderrivier, when he was stabbed to death by a suspect who has since been arrested.\

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Read more on:    saps  |  sandf  |  bheki cele  |  lockdown  |  coronavirus  |  police

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