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Speaker notes by the Minister of Police on Commemoration Day 2018
2018/09/02

SPEAKING NOTES FOR MINISTER OF POLICE ON COMMEMORATION
DAY 2018

The National Commissioner of Police, General Sitole
All Deputy National Commissioners
The Head: Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations
All Provincial, Divisional and Regional Commissioners
Component Heads
All SAPS members and personnel
Members of the media

DATE: 02 SEPTEMBER 2018

VENUE: UNION BUILDING

Annually on this day, the first Sunday of September, the South African Police Service commemorates the men and women in blue who sacrificed and ultimately lost their lives in execution of their duties. As such, today we gather with heavy but profoundly proud hearts, to honor 28 permanent members and one reservist of the SAPS, gallant heroines and heroes who paid the ultimate price to ensure the safety of all the beautiful people of this nation.  Their names will be etched on this national memorial wall, not only to signify the immeasurable and inexpressible gratitude of our nation, but also to communicate to future generations that there once lived men and women of insurmountable honour, whose valor and gallantry placed them in the uppermost echelons of our hierarchy of beings.

The commitment, courage and dedication of these members, who placed their lives on the line for the people of South Africa is highly commended and admired by the whole nation. Although their places are now empty, the legacy that they have left is appreciated and will forever be carried on.

Jeff Sessions asserts that “All of us who work in law enforcement want to keep people safe. That is the heart of our jobs; it is what drives us every day.”

As the South African Police Service, we are committed to the creation of a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa by participating in endeavors to address the root causes of crime in the community and to preventing action which may threaten the safety and security of any community. We are committed to investigating criminal conduct which has endangered the safety and security of the community. Our aim is always to bring to justice those who torment our communities.

Our government has continuously called for an equal commitment to ensuring the Safety of police officers as they perform such duties. This has remained a priority for Government. Since taking over as the Minister of Police late February 2018, I have, almost every weekend, attended about 27 funeral services of our own members. This cannot be right!

The manner in which our police officers are attacked and killed undermines the integrity of the State as well as the safety and security of our citizenry. The SAPS management has implemented a number of measures to combat this scourge. We have for example, adopted an integrated approach to addressing police safety through community awareness and mobilisation, as well as interdepartmental cooperation, in an effort to expedite court processes, ensure harsher sentences for police murders and to facilitate policy reform so as to define the murder of police officers as a crime against the State (treason).

As part of the National Development Plan – vision 2030 says people living in South Africa must feel safe and have no fear of crime. They are safe at home, at school and at work, enjoying an active community life in crime-free streets, streets in which children can play safely without fear of human predators. The police service is a well resourced professional institution staffed by highly skilled officers who value their work, service the community, safeguard lives and property without discrimination, protect the peaceful against violence and respect the rights of all to equality and justice.

September is declared by Police the as Police Safety Month, we will continue to create awareness about personal and operational safety and security of our police and our police stations.

One of major issues that is top of the agenda for this year is Gender-based violence (GBV) a profound and widespread problem in South Africa, impacting on almost every aspect of life, this year alone we have witnessed killing and abuse of young women and children in our country. In the spirit of “Thuma Mina” on the 10th of July 2018 SAPS cadets took part in the 100 Men March Walk that ended at this very spot in the Union Buildings, to raise awareness on the scourge of violence against women and children that continues to threaten our development as a nation. I call on all men to protect our young women and children and not abuse them.

In the same light, I have said that as a society, we need to start focusing more on developing the boy child. For, I believe it is because of the time we spend training the girl child how to be a good woman that we forget to focus on our boys, and raise man of honor. Perhaps that is why we have criminals such as the Engcobo 7 angels, untrained boys who think manhood lies in encaging women, engaging in cash heists and murdering police officers. We need to train up our boys in the way we would want them to be when they grow up. This will go a long way in reducing the abuse of women and crime in general.

Ladies and gentlemen, A big price has been paid by our police officers we can never truly repay the debt we owe our fallen heroes and heroines. Police officers put the badge on every morning, not knowing for sure if they'll come home at night to take it off.

We are well aware that we can have many police safety initiatives and plans in place but it will never succeed if we don’t have the buy in and cooperation of our communities. 

The National Commissioner and myself have agreed that going forward, with the intake and the recruitment process of police members, the training and curriculum of police officers must change. Their training will be intensified to incorporate the defensive strategies used by the Tactical Response Team (TRT) and include a street wise course for our members to be able to adapt to any situation and occurrence they are faced with from day to day.

Many other cases remind us of the risks that our police members have to face each day. The work of a police official cannot be compared as the dangers and challenges are a reality, but brave men and women in blue will chose no other vocation. The 29 members that we commemorate today were men and women of that calibre and they selflessly chose to protect others irrespective of the fact that they risked their own lives in the process.

On this day, we cannot help to be reminded that there are ruthless, callous criminals who are freely roaming the streets of our beautiful country and who do not have respect for the authority of the state or the people of South Africa. Our thoughts go back to a dreadful day in February 2018 when criminals entered the Engcobo police station and attacked and killed five police officials. Warrant officer Mbini, Constable Sandlana, Constable Ntsheku, Constable Pongco and Constable Mateta who only served in the SAPS for one year and 16 days. These members died while keeping the community of Engcobo safe.

Our sincere condolences and deepest sympathy are conveyed to the families and loved ones of our deceased members. We share you pain and heartache as they were also like family to us. The Government and the SAPS will stand by you and will continue to support you as far as possible through initiatives such as the South African Police Service Education Trust which provides financial assistance for the educational needs of the members’ children. Although no gesture or words can bring back your loved ones, rest assured that they did not die in vain. They are regarded as heroes and heroines in the eyes of the nation and the SAPS.

To all the members of the South African Police Service, may you execute your duties in the same way that our fallen members did, with integrity, professionalism and dedication. May the lives that you lead also one day leave a legacy behind and pave the way for generations to come. Always remember to be vigilant and to remember and execute all prescribed safety rules. Your lives are precious and we need you to keep South Africa and South African safe.

The prevention and combatting of crime in our country requires inter-alia partnership between the Police, communities and all stakeholders. At the cornerstone of this partnership, it will be prudent to have police officers who are highly motivated, competent and dedicated to their tasks to fight crime.

Today we are appealing to everyone on all levels of society, to stand together with the South African Police Service and to stop the ruthless criminals who threaten the stability and peace in our country. Our members are our most precious asset and without them there will be no police service.

 

I thank you!