Cape Town – The SA Police and Allied Workers Union (Sapawu) has accused station commanders of risking the lives of their members, saying officers were ordered to go back to work while awaiting Covid-19 test results, and only a few hours after police stations had been decontaminated.
The union has now called for the Police National Steering Committee to investigate. Sapawu president Bonga Makuliwe said a Delft police officer received his positive test result while at a roadblock operation on Tuesday.
“The officer was part of the Delft SAPS and Railway SAPS joint operation where a roadblock was being conducted at Symphony Way. He received a call which updated him that he was infected with the virus.
“The operation was called off, but now we are concerned about members of the public and his colleagues who he might have infected during this operation,” said Makuliwe.
He said the Gugulethu and Philippi police stations were temporarily closed for deep cleaning and sanitising for two hours but opened shortly after, while the union understood the area should be clear for 48 hours.
“In some police stations it was three hours, depending on the advice of the company that is decontaminating. Funnily enough, during fumigation of cockroaches, members are normally sent home, but for (Sars-CoJ-2) they must wait outside for a couple of hours. Our members are put at risk.’’
A Philippi police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “A colleague of mine…who ate with me at times and had been on the same transport with me was diagnosed with the virus, but not one person knew about this until Tuesday, when his wife told us.
“He started being sick at work early in May and took sick leave. He was diagnosed with another sickness, but later it was discovered he was also infected. At the moment we don’t know if we are also infected or not because we did not go for a test.
“We feel that there has been no transparency at our workplace, and if the colleague’s wife hadn’t disclosed this, we would still not know. Our lives and those of our families have been put at risk.”
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said: “Delft SAPS relocated operations of its community service centre on Tuesday to a mobile unit on the premises following a Covid-29 case at the station. Identified police officials who were in close contact with the infected case are undergoing the necessary testing and are quarantined.”
Potelwa confirmed that Philippi and Gugulethu underwent similar processes after cases were confirmed. Regarding the duration of the decontamination of facilities, appointed service providers determined this, she said.
“The service provider takes into account variables such as space, layout and chemicals utilised. Once it completes all the deep-cleaning processes, a certificate declaring the facility safe for occupation has to be handed to the SAPS.
“In the cases cited above, there has been no deviation from the stipulated prescripts.”
By Okuhle Hlati