Police: Keeping society safe despite Covid-19

Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
THEY often put their personal safety aside for a greater good on a daily basis, but sometimes the call of duty is beyond their expectations.

But they rarely ever get a thank you from the society they seek to protect.

In spite of the Covid-19 risks to their own safety, our police officers work selflessly each day to keep communities safe, but their work is often overshadowed by negative stories about police abuse and misconduct.

We may not always notice, but every day our law enforcement officers are diligently working to ensure safety in our communities.

As Covid-19 continues to affect all aspects of life, law enforcement agencies are playing a more pivotal role in enforcing new health and social regulations while ensuring society continues to function in a civil manner.

Chronicle spoke to some female police officers who shared their Covid-19 experiences and revealed how the outbreak of the pandemic has changed their work.

The officers, Assistant Inspector Bongani Sibanda from the Traffic Department, Sergeant Thandekile Ndlovu and Constable Marilyn Makiwa from the Press and Public Relations Department shed light on how as professionals they were at the frontline, yet they were equally needed at home as mothers.

Asst Insp Sibanda needs no introduction to many Bulawayo motorists.

Popularly known as uMaDawu and usually spotted driving branded police vehicles in the city, she keeps the commuter omnibus drivers and other errant drivers in line.

She is a tough cop that drivers never want to mess with. She leads with the iron fist when it comes to rules and laws, and will tell it like it is if you are breaking the law, with a smile pasted on her face.

Despite being a tough cop, she is also human, a mother. She has the same fears about what would happen if she contracted the Covid-19 virus while on duty, and probably goes back home and spreads it unknowingly to her family.

“As a female officer, I am out there carrying out my duties to the country and entrusting my children with others. Ensuring the safety of all in my jurisdiction matters and I work to ensure that the roads are safe for all road users and that motor vehicles are roadworthy and motorists are legally using the roads. I interact with a lot of people as I carry out my daily duties. There are a lot of risks involved in terms of Covid-19. I do my best to ensure that I am safe, but like every mother would, I also worry about my family and my fear is getting the virus and taking it home with me,” she said.

“Because I interact with people from all works of life during the day, I now have to undergo a rigorous bathing and cleansing regime when I get home before I interact with my kids. You have to sanitise the car, door handles, your hands, your phone, handbag outer area, everything. You are so desperate to ensure that all surface areas where the virus may be is sanitised and cleansed. The next day, you go out to work, you come back home, to go through the same process of self-cleansing before coming into contact with the family. Sometimes you feel that maybe it is not enough, maybe they are at risk, but work is work, it has to be done, all you can do is just try.”

Sgt Ndlovu said she was happy to be serving her country during the pandemic but was disheartened by the conduct of members of the public who make the work of officers difficult by disobeying lockdown regulations.

“As we are out here, we are working to ensure the safety of citizens and our job will be more pleasant if civilians cooperate and follow lockdown rules and regulations. Covid-19 cases are going up, but you will see people disregarding regulations and going about as of all is normal. I am also a mother.

“I have left my own family to come and fulfil my duties as an officer of the law. Adults must not need policing. Let us help each other by being responsible. Likewise, I fear that every day, as I work, I will encounter a Covid-19 positive case and catch the virus, despite all efforts to keep myself safe,” said Sgt Ndlovu.

Const Makiwa said one of the most challenging days in being a police officer during the pandemic was seeing people deliberately endangering their lives and the lives of children through non-essential travel and public appearances.

“As a police officer, I am also human. I am also a mother. I put myself in the shoes of these others who expose children to the virus when there is no need. If a mother needs to buy food for children, why drag them along when there is the danger of the virus.

“We see at boreholes; we have a water crisis but people are sending children out there. You wonder, whose child is this out there. It is very disheartening seeing children exposed as a police officer and you won’t be able to deal with each and every case, people may always have the right excuse, but none of us is immune,” said Const Makiwa.

“Another painful thing is that people think we are just out here to give them a hard time. But when we insist that you stay indoors and observe social distancing, it is for your own safety.” — @andile_tshuma.

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