Former ANC MP and state capture whistleblower Vytjie Mentor feels so strongly about the fact that police officers should be slim and fit that she reposted an image from her archives depicting a particularly overweight cop of indeterminate gender leaning into a police van.
She was quick to disclaim that she wasn’t posting the image to encourage body-shaming but as a more general criticism of the state of the police force.
Earlier this month, she wrote (in all caps, which we’ve mercifully removed): “I am posting this again! This is not body-shaming.
“Police-people are supposed to be fit at all times. The employer has wellness programs and should encourage as well as assist employees to be up to standard with the physical requirements of their job.
“We tolerate mediocrity and condone wrong things. That’s why we ended with a president with Grade 2 level of education. It is only in this country where you will find police and soldiers in below-standard fitness condition wearing uniform.
“There is too much political correctness and cliches that are used to substitute reason in this country. We often sweet-coat things and cry crocodile tears [once] things are direly out of hand.
“The face of the individual is not shown, the intention is not to humiliate him or her, but to address his/her condition, which is way below the standard that’s acceptable with requirements of the job at hand.
“People often refer to fitness of footballers. When they are unfit, we talk about them, we are shown their pictures, that’s not body shaming at all.”
However, after the post was widely shared and commented on, many on Facebook maintained that Mentor was engaging in body-shaming and that, perhaps, not all police officers needed to be physically fit if they worked behind a desk for most of the day.
Most people, however, agreed with her, especially since police officers are presumably expected to be able to apprehend suspected criminals with more than average running ability and who may not wish to be arrested.
Mentor once shared a story that suggested she may have, on one occasion, been personally grateful for being on the heavier side herself. Last year, in her self-published memoir No Holy Cows, she alleged that Jacob Zuma sexually harassed her when he was still deputy president of South Africa.
She claimed that during an encounter in Zuma’s office he sat uncomfortably close to her and then “shoved his hand in between my thighs” and added that her “big inner thighs” were all that stood between her and her dignity.
Mentor apparently then “slapped him across his ugly face with my handbag” and stormed out.