Police Minister Bheki Cele Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Police Minister Bheki Cele Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Concern lockdown violators contributing to spike in cop infections

By Athandile Siyo Time of article published May 25, 2020

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Cape Town – The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) believes that arresting and holding suspects for violating the lockdown regulations has contributed to a spike in infections among police officers.

The union said the rise in infections and recent deaths demonstrated the fact that despite the supply of personal protective equipment, more stringent measures needed to be adopted in ensuring regular screening, cleaning and decontamination of police stations.

This comes after the recent deaths of two police officers in the Western Cape. A constable from Khayelitsha police station in Site B died on Thursday, bringing to four the number of Covid-19-related police deaths in the Western Cape. 

Nineteen police stations in the province were closed to be disinfected, with some more than twice.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said: “The government needs to also consider charging people who break lockdown rules with admission of guilt fines instead of cramping them in our under-capacitated police holding cells.”

Police Minister Bheki Cele told a media briefing on Friday that 611 SAPS, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members and all other security forces at the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic had tested positive with six deaths.

He said the Western Cape made up the majority of confirmed cases with 411.

He commended the SAPS Covid-19 national and provincial steering committees for ensuring that protocols were in place and were being followed.

“The intensive screening and testing has seen hundreds of members go into isolation, and over 3000 quarantined. I know that our communities have been nervous about police members testing positive and stations being shut down. 

"The truth is, as soon as an SAPS member or PSA employee from any police station or any SAPS building tests positive, the Department of Health is brought on board.

“Occupants of the specific building are screened and tested. The building or facility must be vacated immediately for decontamination and can only be reoccupied after a period of 12 to 48 hours,” he said.

SA Police and Allied Workers Union secretary-general Xolile Tyhali claimed police management was no longer following Covid-19 protocols.

He said that once a workplace was contaminated, it must be closed immediately and decontaminated before reopening after 48 hours.

“The SAPS has now issued new directions where each cluster will contract with a company that will do decontamination and that company will decide when the place can open again.

"These companies allow the workplace to close only two hours after decontamination and open after two hours.

"We don’t know what scientific evidence the employer relied on to close the workplace for two hours,” he said.

Tyhali said a probe was under way in Delft where the station commander allegedly instructed members who were waiting for their results to report to work.

Tyhali said a Delft police officer was recovering from the coronavirus in intensive care.

Cape Times

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