Coronavirus News Africa

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

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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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