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Top cop beats virus to lead unit

Tankiso Makhetha Investigative reporter

As a police officer, Brig Mashadi Selepe has learnt that in her job, one puts fear aside and serve one's community.Selepe believes that being a police officer comes hand-in-hand with risking one's life to ensure the safety of greater population. The Westonaria district commander for the Visible Policing Unit knows police work comes with more hazards apart from dangerous criminals. Recently, she contracted Covid-19 while on duty. After making full recovery, Selepe is taking it all in her stride as she's now back on duty."Being a police officer... it's more of a calling. It's not just about Covid-19. You develop a thick skin. The spirit of fear... you put it aside when you go to work. But you are human [throughout]."I was affected by Covid and I just got back from isolation period for about a month. I am only human but I am grateful and proud that it affected me while I was performing duties of my calling as a police officer," Selepe said. Selepe was on top of her game recently as she commanded Gauteng's weekly Operation O Kae Molao in Khutsong, Carletonville.During the parade she was decisive in giving instructions to members of the SAPS, Merafong traffic department and security officers from the surrounding mines in her district. She has been at the helm of her unit for a year and has turned its successes around, making it the best-performing Visible Policing Unit in the province. Her 30-year journey as a policewoman includes being a founder member of Soweto branch of the Child Protection Unit (now known as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations Unit) to running the office of police minister Bheki Cele as member the administrative secretariat in 2018. "The love for policing has always been there, aside from the fact that my dad was a policeman," she said. "Initially, I wanted to be a social worker but due to financial constraints at home I opted to be an officer. I got into the police service at a time when the the Child Protection Unit was being set up and I was lucky to be the founder member of its Soweto branch. "I did not lose the sight of being a social worker because issues of children are being taken seriously by me."The mother of two said she was the first woman to be included in the Public Order Policing Unit. "I have never felt threatened by working with men because our training teaches us to deal with different situations in different environments. My most challenging period has been managing communities during the lockdown period. "Most community members are not compliant with the regulations set out in the Disaster Management Act."Our job as police officers is not to police a health condition, but to support the department of health in terms of compliance, so we are doing our best."

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