Summoning Churchillian authority, President Cyril Ramaphosa fired up the South African Police Force (SAPS), urging the men and women in blue to go out and enforce the nationwide lockdown with duty and service at the forefront of their agenda.
He called on SAPS officers to act with compassion and authority in a time of desperate uncertainty and fear.
“Our people are terrified,” he said. “They fear they will lose their jobs, that they won’t have enough food, that they will become sick, that they will become bored in their homes. You are expected as police officers of South Africa to have compassion and understanding to be able to give help and assistance. That is why you are called in service.
“This is the time for SAPS to provide a service to the people of South Africa. I call upon you from the bottom of my heart to have a notion of going out to save lives. If you know this, you will be supported. You must advise, guide and lead the way. That is what we expect.”
Trouble makers will be punished
He said that the majority of South Africans were expected to abide by the urgent and stringent measures placed upon them, but warned that some may try to cause trouble for law enforcement.
“In the main, the people of this country are law abiding.”
“There will be those that take chances and cut corners, deliberately challenging the state. This is not the time to play with fire and the people of South Africa must follow the rules. We are deadly serious about saving lives.
“Those that do wrong things will feel the wrath of the South African state.”
He deployed the officers with the rallying call that they should be known as a positive force for good, representing compassion and guidance. He added that:
“I send you off now to be amongst our people, to go and conduct service and shower them with guidance and advise. Shower them with leadership and show them the right things that must be done.
“We are hoping that the action we have taken will help us defeat this virus.
“We are not the only country fighting coronavirus. We join a galaxy of countries involved in every effort to defeat this virus. You are doing God’s work, our people’s work. This is a global task.”
Ramaphosa called on police to exercise compassion for the citizens whom they will be regulating and assisting.
“Don’t be known as a service that is ‘skopping and donnering’ people. Be a service that is compassionate, kind, helpful, supportive to our people.
“Don’t do anything that violates the lives of South Africans. Do right by them and save their lives.”
Summing up his call to action, he reiterated that this was a moment that officers had prepared for all their lives, a moment to demonstrate excellence.
“This is the hour, the moment that you over the years have trained for. Not only crime fighters, also to save lives against invisible enemy. That moment now falls upon you to put the interests of South Africans ahead of yours. I wish you well.
“Serve with dignity and integrity. I will walk with you to ensure that we save the lives of the people of South Africa. Thank you.”