Eastern Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga has tested positive for Covid-19, the South African Police Service confirmed on Wednesday.
The police and the department of health have embarked on a process to trace all those who were in contact with Ntshinga, said national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo.
The police finally confirmed the news after News24 had sent questions on Monday to verify reports, following an apparent evacuation of hundreds of employees from the SAPS provincial headquarters outside King William’s Town.
Naidoo confirmed the decontamination of the provincial office in Zwelitsha.
Ntshinga, a top cop with stints as head of the Hawks in the Free State and Northern Cape, had placed herself in self-isolation, said Naidoo.
“As a precautionary measure, the SAPS in collaboration with other relevant roleplayers, including the department of health, have embarked on a process to trace all those who may have had close contact with the lieutenant general, in order to undergo the necessary screening and testing processes.”
Naidoo said Ntshinga had received her diagnosis over the weekend after voluntarily undergoing a test, despite being asymptomatic.
“At the time of testing, Lieutenant General Ntshinga had not experienced any illness, but chose to undergo the test as a precaution to ensure the safety, good health and wellbeing of herself and those around her.”
National police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole wished Ntshinga a speedy recovery. He also commended Ntshinga’s role in leading crime-fighting initiatives during the time of Covid-19.
“I want to firstly applaud the bravery of the Provincial Commissioner in disclosing her diagnosis to the public during this unprecedented period”, said Sitole.
“I also take this opportunity to wish her and all members infected and/or affected by this virus a speedy recovery and encourage them all to stay safe in the fight against crime.”
Following the news of her diagnosis, Ntshinga made her results known to the police management team, personnel and close contacts, said Naidoo.
Naidoo said: “Members of the public at large will appreciate that the Provincial Commissioner has been at the forefront of monitoring the implementation of enforcing the country’s lockdown regulations around the province, since the start of the Lockdown.”
He said the protocols and directives had been put in place to contain and manage Covid-19 within the SAPS.
He said these included the decontamination of the provincial office in Zwelitsha, King William’s Town, on Tuesday, and that close contacts had been tested and quarantined if tested positive.
“In the meantime, contingency plans have been put in place to ensure that the services rendered from the Eastern Cape Provincial Office have not been disrupted,” said Naidoo.
News 24 understands that more top cops fear they could have contracted the virus, but Naidoo would not be drawn into answering the question.
“The provincial commissioner therefore takes this opportunity to inform the people of the Eastern Cape that she is in high spirit and good health. She is encouraging all people to continue to practice social distancing, wear their masks or recommended PPE, stay in their homes and be safe as this virus has proven to have no boundaries,” he said.