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Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele address to SAPS members in Pretoria
2020/07/10

PRETORIA; 10 JULY 2020

Let me start by aknowledging the presence of the SAPS Management Team
National Commissioner of the SAPS; General Sithole
Deputy National Police Commissioners; Lt General Masemola and Lt General Vuma
Acting Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner; Mj General Ndlovu
District Commissioner Major General Mthombeni
Members of the South African Police Service
Members of the Media

Good Morning 

I hope that this message reaches far and wide to all the men and women of the South African Police Service.

Officers, I am addressing you ALL today as a Police Minister who is appreciative of the hard work you have put in over the past three months.

But, I am also concerned about your safety and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I remain encouraged by your resilience as you continue to be at the coalface of a global pandemic.

Officers!

Last year when we as the SAPS adopted the sloganZizojika Izinto” for our Safer Festive Season Operationswe had no idea that indeed Zizojika Izinto – life would change- not just for us as the SAPS but for the world over. 

This global health crisis has turned the world upside down. And you as members have not been cushioned from the impact.

CALL TO SERVE AND PROTECT

In February, members in blue were called upon to help protect South Africans against this invisible but deadly enemy.

With little or no time to prepare, all we knew was that the COVID-19 storm had reached our shores and in its path, it was disrupting and uprooting the lives and livelihoods of millions.

Yes, you were scared.

Yes, you had doubts.

But despite the mass uncertainty and fear that surrounded the virus and how it would impact on your work, your personal lives and the lives of your loved ones - you stood firm and got the job done.

In March, when the nationwide Lockdown was introduced, you carried on with the business of the day.

Armed with your masks, gloves hand sanitisers and other protective gear, you have rose to the occasion.

You left the comforts of your homes and went out into the eye of the storm, when the public heeded the President's call to STAY AT HOME.

To date, you have manned over 14 thousand roadblocks.

You maintained high visibility and patrols in beaches, taxi ranks,markets, malls, main streets and other areas of potential mass gatherings to ensure social distancing.

You also have closed down illegal operations that tried to undermine Government's efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

You, officers, also arrested and brought to book over two hundred thousands of those who transgressed the Disaster Management Act.

MEMBERS INFECTED

Policing during a pandemic has been challanging and has came at a cost.

The virus has infected over 5 thousand members and resulted in the decontamination of hundreds of police stations across the country.

Sadly, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 36 of our own.

We salute the fallen officers and honour their service to the nation.

We also send messages of heartfelt condolences to the families left behind, please find comfort knowing that you will be taken care of as per SAPS protocols.

It is on this score, ladies and gentlemen, that I want to reassure you as your Minister, that the SAPS Management is fully behind you during this difficult time.

SUPPORT FOR MEMBERS

Through the Provincial and National steering committees set up in response to the pandemic, we will continue to ensure you have the necessary tools of trade while on duty. 

Members, if you test positive, be reminded that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

Virtual Psychological services and support will continue to be available to you as you self isolate and recover.

Officers, I know that over the past months, servicing your communities, during a pandemic has been stressful. 

Your stress is also compounded by news of colleagues and your loved ones being infected or affected by the virus. The rising numbers of  COVID-19 infections across the country is alarming,  I am sure this is impacting negatively your morale.

I understand it is increasingly becoming difficult to have a positive outlook on life. 

Remember, there is a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline (0800 02 99 99) in place to ensure continuous support to infected and affected members and their families.

The hotline is manned by SAPS psychologists, occupational health experts, social workers, chaplains and legal experts.

Frontline members are encouraged to also use this hotline, to get clarity on the implementation of Lockdown regulations.

The in-house awareness programmes aimed at empowering members about COVID-19 are available for all employees of the SAPS.

Ladies and Gentlemen, while the virus continues to affect us all in the police service, we still cannot afford let our guard down.

WORK OF THE SAPS DURING LOCKDOWN

As first respondents, crime remains your number one enemy. 

The emergence of COVID-19 means you have to now guard against a second enemy – an invisible one.

While the country is on Lockdown, we know that criminals are NOT going ‘STAY AT HOME’ and they certainly will NOT be sympathetic towards us at this time. 

So, I call on all of you to continue to decisively deal with both the armed and unarmed enemy.

GBV

Members, Fighting Gender Based Violence must always remain a priority, throughout the pandemic and beyond.

I want to thank you for rendering effective services at police stations, especially to victims of Domestic and Gender Based Violence.

You are encouraged to continue improving your responses to crimes committed against women, children and all vulnerable groups.

Continue to treat victims who come to you with empathy.

Investigate the cases thoroughly and leave no stone unturned in bringing perpetrators to book.

WE SHALL OVERCOME

Members of the service, As the President has said - We will beat COVID-19!

I assure you as your Minister that we will not only beat this virus, but as the SAPS, we will come out of this storm - stronger.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of officers who have embarrassed the organisation by breaking the very rules they were meant to enforce. But the majority of you continue to serve your country with excellence and pride throughout this pandemic.

While your role has always been important in defending the communities you serve, this time you have been sent on extra mission to protect South Africans against both enemies.

I call on every member of this proud organisation, to continue to serve AND protect with selfless patriotism and dedication, in the fight against COVID-19.

Communities, who are the SAPS’s biggest allies, thank you for your continued support and partnership of policing efforts. We know that your role is critical to us as we continue to stamp the authority of the state during this pandemic and beyond.  I thank you All.

Stay Safe and Take Care.