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Keynote Address: Lieutenant General JK Phahlane Medal Parade and STF Wings / Operators Badges Parade SAPS Tshwane Academy

Pretoria, 22 March 2017

Programme Director, Lt Col Maluleke
The Deputy National Commissioner: Human Resource Management, Lt Gen Mgwenya
The Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, Lt Gen Masemola
The host, representing the Divisional Commissioner of Operational Response Services, Maj Gen Zulu
The Divisional Commissioner of Human Resource Development, Lt Gen Mkhwanazi
Senior members of the South African Police Service
Chaplain, Lt Col (Pastor) Mokwena
Special Task Force members receiving Wings and Operators Badges
Recipients of medals
Families, colleagues and friends of recipients
All members of the South African Police Service present
Distinguished guests

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen. 

It is indeed an honour and privilege to deliver address you during the Special Task Force (STF) Wings and Operators Badges presentation parade, combined with the Medal Parade.

I must say, while other members march onto a parade ground, it is very impressive that Special Task Force members form up by parachuting in; well done.

Many special force’s operators around the world know the words: “You have never lived until you have almost died and for those who fight for it, life has a flavour the protected will never know”.  For all operational members of the South African Police Service, these words will ring true; our members run towards situations that others are running away from. 

The Special Task Force is the special operations element of the SAPS and is considered to be amongst the best of such units in the world. The STF is deployed into a policing operation or scenario when it is considered that other tactical policing methods cannot resolve that particular situation.

STF members have experienced two vocational callings in life – the first to be a member of the South African Police Service, to serve and protect; the second to train further and harder to be part of a small, elite band of counter-terror and hostage-release experts within the South African Police Service.  These members have reached the pinnacle of the policing elite, but yet at the same time, in no way consider themselves to be superior to their brothers and sisters in blue; we are all family, cut from the same cloth.

Although their mandate relates primarily to countering terror threats and hostage situations, because of the limited scale of terror threats in South Africa, the Special Task Force is primarily deployed to resolve domestic hostage situations and to arrest violent criminal syndicates such as those involved in assets-in-transit heists and ATM bombings.  They are also involved in high-priority protection, such as during major international events.

Like all career police officials, STF members are fully committed to sacrificing their all in order to serve and protect, including sacrificing their own lives.  Last year, we tragically lost Constable Nene who died during a shootout and high-speed chase, pursuing a CIT syndicate fleeing the scene of crime.  We pay tribute to his sacrifice and commend two of his colleagues who were injured in the vehicle accident which cost Constable Nene his life – one of whom is on parade today and one who is still recuperating and is among our audience – we salute you.  Constable Nene’s death was greatly mourned within the STF and by all within the SAPS. Our guests will witness the unity among this “brotherhood” towards the end of the parade, when the serving group of members present will march forward to accept the newly-winged members into their midst.

A few years ago we witnessed an outcry by STF members, relating to a lack of transformation including allegations of racism.  Contrary to what many believe, we can now say that the STF is largely representative of the racial composition of our country.  It is undeniable that we still have our work cut out in terms of being gender representative. 

Allow me, on behalf of the Department of Police, to congratulate and commend the members on parade today.

The prestigious insignia in the form of wings, badges and medals pinned on their proud chests is testimony that they are now part of the SAPS’ exclusive unit and that they earned the right to wear the insignia with dignity and pride. We applaud you on this exceptional achievement and know you are deserving of this, since it was earned during not only months, but years, of training and undoubtedly a fair share of blood, sweat and tears. The 10, 20 and 30 years loyal service medals awarded today are also decorations of merit, loyalty, discipline and commitment which we bestow with respect and should be worn with the utmost pride.

Words cannot express how proud we are of your achievements today. We salute your courage, boldness, bravery and sheer determination to become the best of the best, the cream of the crop. We wish you all the best with your career in the SAPS and in the Special Task Force and know that nothing will stop you in the fight against crime. The additional numbers added to the current establishment will definitely enhance and strengthen capacity within the Special Task Force and makes you a formidable force to be reckoned with.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the families and loved ones for their selfless support and personal sacrifices required when a loved one decides to embark on the journey to become a member of the Special Task Force. The long periods of absence and the handling of responsibilities on your own could not have been easy, but know that it is appreciated and is contributing to a higher cause. We thank you and pray that you will stay as patient and strong as they are. Without you and your unwavering support, these members would not be standing here today.

We feel inspired and we go home knowing – because of you - that the impossible does not exist.

Thank you.