Bheki Cele kicks off police Covid-19 vaccination drive in Soweto
The vaccination of more than 180,000 police officers started on Monday with police minister Bheki Cele and other top brass receiving their jabs in Soweto, Johannesburg.
“We are happy to be here today and have been looking forward towards this day,” Cele said.
“The sad part is that we reach this point when we have lost 672 of our members. We wish it could have been earlier so that we did not lose those members.
“We believe we will be much safer after being vaccinated.”
Cele and national police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole were leading the vaccination drive at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Other top brass included the head of the Hawks, Lt-Gen Godfrey Lebeya, and Lt-Gen Lineo Ntshiea, divisional commissioner for human resources management.
Medical scheme Polmed, which provides health insurance to 80% of police service members, said together with AfroCentric Group, they were on a mission to vaccinate 20,000 active police force members in three days.
Sgt Nathasha Govender from Eldorado Park and Const Tebogo Rafapa were the first two police members to be vaccinated.
“The police strategy was designed to make sure our members are safe. They are the ones who are put on the frontline when things happen and they are also deployed to assist the department of health in their endeavours to make sure we control the coronavirus and secure vaccines,” Sitole said.
“Today let us all take the vaccine and make sure we go out there and support the programme to get the entire nation vaccinated and make sure everyone complies with the Covid-19 protocols.”
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and SA Police Union (Sapu) welcomed the initiative and called on all members to “heed the call” and get vaccinated.
“It has been a long-awaited moment for our members to be vaccinated and able to do their work without fear during the pandemic,” said Sapu president Thandi Mkhize.