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Lt Gen BC Mgwenya at Eastern Cape Provincial Medal Parade in Port Elizabeth
2017/08/30

Speaker Notes:

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security, Mr Peter
The Provincial Commissioner of the Eastern Cape, Lieutenant General Ntshinga
The Deputy Provincial Commissioners present
The Cluster and Station Commanders in attendance
Our medal recipients and their families
All employees of the South African Police Service
Distinguished guests
Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It is at occasions such as these that I feel especially proud to be part of the South African Police Service or the SAPS; a family of men and women in blue tasked to safeguard South African society, which consists of members who are prepared to walk the extra mile, who will never undermine what the blue uniform stands for, who work for the good of others, and people in whose hands we entrust our lives.

Distinguished guests, today, we honour the men and women who have served this organisation with distinction. These are men and women who put their lives at risk for 20, 30, even as long as 40 years to protect the people of this country. We are proudly affirming their hard work and dedication as we celebrate their service and achievements. It is, therefore, a huge honour to thank them and present them with medals on behalf of the Minister of Police and the Acting National Commissioner of the SAPS, for their devotion and loyalty to this organisation, their colleagues and the people they serve.

To our medal recipients, no words can acknowledge or describe the sacrifices you have made during your time in service and that you are still going to make in the time that is left of your careers. Presenting medals to you today, is a public acknowledgment of your contributions, loyalty and dedication to the very demanding environment you find yourselves in every day.

I am confident that other, more junior members will be encouraged to follow in your footsteps and work even harder so that tomorrow, they too can be acknowledged as those who epitomise diligence, discipline and integrity in the SAPS.

Over the years, members have come and gone in our organisation. You are counted among those who had the will and endurance to continue serving under challenging circumstances with integrity, humility and commitment, and this will be documented in our history as such.

Ladies and gentlemen, today also marks an occasion at which we present very special awards, such as the South African Police Service Silver Cross for Bravery and Commendation medals.

The South African Police Service Silver Cross for Bravery was awarded to Warrant Officer W Meyer of Mount Road in Port Elizabeth. He faced great danger when he confronted seven armed robbers after they robbed a jewellery store in the Greenacres Shopping Centre in Port Elizabeth in March 2015. He single-handedly took the robbers on and attempted to stop them from fleeing the centre. During the shootout between the robbers and the member, Warrant Officer Meyer sustained a gunshot wound to his leg, but he succeeded to wound one of the robbers, which resulted in his arrest and the stolen jewellery being recovered.

The Silver Cross for Bravery was also awarded to Constable M Mqokeli, Constable P Dlamba and Constable VG Gwaxula of the Motherwell Police Station. In April 2015, these officers confronted and arrested five armed robbers and recovered two firearms after the suspects had robbed and assaulted a member of the SAPS on returning home after completing her duties. She was robbed of her service pistol, vehicle, bank cards and other personal belongings. Although these members came under heavy fire from the robbers, they arrested the suspects and recovered the stolen property.

Commendation medals were also awarded to Captain JR Fobian, Captain RN Steyn, Warrant Officer J Swarts, Warrant Officer F Dicks, Constable S Katikati and Constable Makhosonke. In January 2014, these officers were part of the SAPS K9 search-and-rescue team who bravely rescued eight young children who were trapped on an island in the Tina River during flash floods. The members had no access to aids, such as the SAPS’s helicopter, and put their lives at great risk to swim out at night in a raging river to save the children.

Distinguished guests, the quality of being brave lies in being fearless, showing courage and being bold under difficult and life-threatening conditions. The deeds of our heroes and heroines are often quickly forgotten and sometimes this is overshadowed by the few members in the SAPS who commit less respectable deeds. Those who rightfully deserve to become the focus of media and public attention are the heroes and heroines standing in front of you today, especially those who cannot be with us today, because they sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.

This Sunday, the SAPS Annual National Commemoration Day will take place in Pretoria where we will commemorate 40 of our members who paid the highest price to serve and safeguard the people of South Africa.

It is, however, encouraging to those who excel in their duties and in bravery to know that the lives they have touched - the hostages, the victims and the sufferers of abuse – will never forget the calm, confident and fearless courage displayed by our men and women in blue in times of need.  

Distinguished guests, as much as we praise our members for their hard work and loyalty, we must also indicate that more work needs to be done to make our communities safer. There are challenges in the sphere of policing and there are still many battles that must be fought in our war against crime.

One of these battles is combatting sexual violence, the abuse of women and children, and the impact that gender-based violence has on our society. Last week, the Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mbalula, hosted an Action Indaba on Gender-based Violence and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups. In his address, the Minister outlined the Department’s six-point plan, which we must all know as well as we know our Code of Conduct.

The Minister stressed the need for members to ensure that no victim is turned away without a case being opened and a proper interview being conducted. This is not a favour we are doing for the victims. It is their democratic right to be assisted. This is not negotiable and members of the SAPS must ensure that this takes place at all times. It is also important to request the support of all role players, government departments and the community to ensure that we support victims of crime and that everything possible is done to bring the perpetrators to book.

Men and women in blue, we must ensure that we meet the needs of our communities, especially those in rural areas to prevent criminals from gaining the upper hand. You must remember that in the performance of your duties, there is always room for courtesy, compassion, empathy and understanding. We are here to serve and protect the people of this country in a manner that honours our calling.

In line with the back-to-basics approach to policing, which focusses on every police official strictly following the basics of policing properly and consistently, we have committed to ensuring that the SAPS will have a serious hold on crime and criminality. We have committed to ensuring that our core operational responsibilities, such as policing and crime detection, including the emphasis on management interventions, will respond to current societal challenges and demands. The key element lies with our ability to mobilise communities against crime, form partnerships and gain the help and support of key stakeholders.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to every member of the SAPS who daily and diligently performs their duties to the best of their ability, in order to make our communities’ safe and ensuring that they feel safe. I am confident that with the calibre of men and women we have, we will be able to continue to tackle crime head-on and deliver successfully on our mandate.

As is the case with our daring task at hand, Winston Churchill once said and I quote: "We must be united, we must be undaunted, and we must be inflexible."

 

Thank you.