Cele says 253 cops infected with Covid-19 - more than double the tally of 8 days ago

The number of police officers infected with Covid-19 has more than doubled in just eight days.

Last Thursday, 103 police officers had tested positive for the virus.

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said 253 were infected with "this invisible enemy that is attacking our members".

He was addressing a joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Police and the Select Committee on Security and Justice.

"It is going to be much darker before it is bright. We hope our members will survive this time, we hope our members are going to be there to be part of the frontline to defend the rest of South Africa," Cele said.

He added police officers were highly mobile, often moving between provinces, but this might need to change as it could harm their health.

"Things will never be the same after Covid-19. Indeed, life has changed. Never thought criminals would transport drugs and alcohol in the coffins," Cele said.

Earlier on Friday, he told the committees the police have arrested a lot of people for smuggling cigarettes and alcohol, saying he had seen cases where people said they were crossing provincial borders to attend funerals, but then the police find alcohol and drugs in the coffins.

On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced 19 000 inmates convicted of petty crimes would be released on parole to combat the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

National police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) had proposed a "multi-disciplinary approach" to monitor the parolees.  

"From the South African Police Service side, we have established some avenues to monitor these particular prisoners, how they progress, in particular some intelligence," Sitole added.

They have also proposed a community-based reintegration programme "so that these people don't find themselves rejected and go back", he said.

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