Police Minister General Bheki Cele has saluted police officers who continue to put their lives on the line each day as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cele tipped his hat for the men and women in blue as the country celebrated National Police Day on Wednesday. “Each year on January 27th, the South African Police Service pauses and remembers the sacrifices that the country’s officers have made in their quest for a safer South Africa,” he said.
This year’s event was marred by a global pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives around the country and hundreds within the police service.
Since March last year, COVID-19 has so far infected 26 382 officers, with 501 succumbing to related illnesses. Over 22 000 have recovered and are back to their posts.
Cele said while the message of “Stay At Home” was preached to fight the invisible enemy, police officers continue to go out there and confront this virus head-on when enforcing the law.
“Indeed it is a dark time for all of us in the SAPS as the pandemic continues to rob us of the opportunity to unite in our collective grief and give our fallen colleagues a befitting police send-off. However, as your Minister, I’m calling on you all to unite in solidarity with the fallen members and continue to improve the service you provide to those who need it,” he said.
The Minister also sent heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the members who have succumbed and wished a speedy recovery to those who are in hospital.
He said he remained encouraged that the impact of the virus has not slowed down the prevention, combating and investigation of crime.
“While you unite your efforts in ensuring maximum adherence to the lockdown regulations, don’t lose sight of the enemy of crime, continue to work closely with community members to squeeze out criminality in whatever shape or form,” said Cele.
National Police Commissioner, General Khehla John Sitole, has urged South African communities to intensify its support to the SAPS in its efforts to root out corruption, combat crime and flatten the curve.
Sitole used the day to make this call and highlight the importance of community participation in the fight against crime.
“Police officers across the country continue to ensure that the people of South Africa are and feel safe despite our organisation having lost over 500 members to the COVID-19 virus and thousands of our members infected since this outbreak hit our shores,” said General Sitole.
“While the greater majority of the people of the country stand in unity with the police against crime and this pandemic there are still many people who continue to put people in harm’s way with approximately 13 000 people being charged for simply not wearing a mask.”