Mbabane: The National Commissioner of Police (NATCOM), William Tsintsibala Dlamini, has expressed his distress over the lack of an opportunity to explain what he meant when addressing regional commanders through a memo regarding police officers risking contracting the coronavirus.
The police chief was subsequently criticized by junior officers who were recalled to work after their leaves were suspended in adherence to the Covid-19 safety pre-cautions. The memo, dated March 25, 2020 with the code NATCOM/99/16/V/8, expressed the police chief’s shock that some officers had tested positive to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The recalled officers understood the police chief to be saying that the Covid-19 pandemic was rampant at their homes –a statement interpreted as scornful to their communities.
“We had no option but to recall all our officers who had taken their leaves because our priority was their health as well as that of their families, without meaning their homes were infested by the virus,” said Dlamini, adding that officers who needed to visit their families would do so, but had to abide by certain conditions, which included applying through their respective station commanders. Dlamini said the commanders would approve the applications and went on to facilitate the travelling means of the officers to and from their homes. They (commanders) would also ensure that the officers were safe once they were at their homes, which would prevent contracting and spreading the virus once they returned to work.
Dlamini said as a frontline organisation in the fight against the pandemic, they had to up their game and be exemplary, to such an extent that officers who felt they were burdened by wearing the masks while out in the field especially at the roadblocks, had to return to the offices. “We are so strict when it comes to adhering to the regulations and we frown upon slight infractions such as the improper wearing of the masks,” said the police chief.
Dlamini said there was no room to lower the standards of combating the deadly virus and called for solidarity in the organisation all to fight a common enemy. He added that is common that officers who were out on their leaves would complain on being recalled. “The police service is very hectic with a packed schedule especially in the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and officers would be happy to be at home instead of manning roadblocks and being under strict orders to abide by the government’s regulations,” said the police chief. The police chief said he pinned his hopes that all police officers would understand what it meant to be an officer in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.