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Speaker notes Minister of Police, Mr Cele SAPS Passing out Parade 21 December 2018

Pretoria, 21 December 2018

Programme Director
Judge Deputy President, Mr Ledwaba
National Commissioner of Police, General Sitole
Deputy National Commissioners
Provincial, Divisional and Regional Commissioners  
The SAPS’s senior management
SAPS’s members and personnel
Labour Unions
Members on parade
Family and friends
Distinguished guests
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen

Just over a year ago, many of these young men and women you see parading before us today were mainly part of the unemployed youth of this country. Some may have sitting at home, having just completed matric, or their postgraduate studies, or various internships offered by different employers.

Little did they know that while in their markedly unique backgrounds, different homes and communities, they would one day share simple but fundamentally important vision; a vision so clearly expressed in section 205 of the Constitution, to one day dedicate their lives to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, enforcing the law of the Republic fearlessly and without favour.

It is this honourable vision, this noble goal that we have sought to inculcate amongst these our trainees in the past few months of their training at our academies across the country. Their willingness to take this vision drove their individual paths to merge where we are today. Boys and girls who yesterday only shared a vision, today stand before us as gallant young men and women, beautifully clad in the lovely SAPS uniform, ready to face the scourge of crime head-on. They have in their hearts suffered the irritation of the effects of crime as many of us have, and have decided to take a stand, took individual oaths and have successfully taken the first step towards making South Africa a safer place for all. I cannot express how proud I personally am for this that they have achieved. I know that we are all proud of these young warriors, our heroines and heroes of the day, lets we give them a round of applause. 

Now, proud as we are of this milestone of an achievement, we are mindful that this is only but the first step in a journey of a thousand miles. The road ahead is steep. The road ahead is tough. Blatant, ruthless criminals, some even masqueraded as friends and family, await them in the streets. They wait to corrupt you. They wait to fight with you. They wait to lie and accuse   you. They wait to give you wrong instructions and ideas, trying to protect their criminal syndicates and their underworld empires. Unfortunately, some of you are actually going to fall into these traps. It will only be a few months before you are caught red handed, before you become an embarrassment to the police service and to your families who today are so proud of you. Officers, if anyone has not told you before, today I am telling you: this is a war and YOU MUST FIGHT.

The first and obvious fight that you will wage is against violent criminals on the streets. We are tired of seeing young police officers dying in the hands of criminals. I know that each of these officers have successfully learnt how to use firearms. Earlier this year, I instructed that they must each receive intermediate or advanced street survival and tactical response training. This means that each one of these members is trained to protect themselves as good as the high tactical units.

So today, officers, we say no one of you should die with those guns in your hands. I have heard people saying I once instructed police officers to shoot to kill. No I did not say that. Today, I am repeating that which I have always said: No single officer should die in the hands of a criminal with a gun in his or her hands. We say no! Police officers must use those guns wisely, efficiently and effectively. You must protect your lives and the lives of your fellow officers using those firearms within the ambit of the law. They are not for decoration. We cannot let criminals kill us like flies. What happened eNgcobo for example cannot and will not be tolerated. Not on our watch. Where a criminal wields a gun and a police officer wields a gun too, and it happens that one amongst them must die on the spot, it must not be the police officer who dies.

As the government, we have the responsibility to enact legislation and policies that will ensure that you are fully protected. We must protect our protectors, and we commit that we will afford you the protection you so need and deserve as much as we can.

The second battle you are going to have to fight is corruption. This has become so much of a scourge in South Africa that it is threatening to destroy the gains of our democracy for which we paid by our own blood. Officers, stay away from corruption. As you may have witnessed in the past few months, you can only survive corruption for a limited period of time, possibly at a time when you think you are in control.

The police possess a special power which has been borrowed to them by the Constitution and the people of this country. It is only the police who have the power to even use force limit the freedoms of certain civilians in our community so as to protect and ensure the general safety and security of all persons and their property. Unfortunately, this power is often misused. Some rogue officers begin to behave as though they are invincible, as if they are above the law. As a result, they commit a range of transgressions and think that they will not be arrested. Members, believe me when I tell you, no one is above the law. Do not allow yourself to be corrupted by criminals, relatives and even your commanders.

No dockets must mysteriously disappear from police offices and a criminal be somehow luckily let off the hook because of lack evidence in a court of law, apparently because they are related to a senior manager of the SAPS. We don’t want to start seeing you, a constable, becoming instantly rich and buying lavish vehicles, yet we do not know where the money is coming from. Many have been through that path. You will not be the first ones to get offers for cool drink and so on. We have seen it, we have arrested some. Till today, some regret that one incident and continue to bother us requesting to be given a second chance! Just avoid corruption now while it is still early, because if you take the R50 today, tomorrow it will be R100, then R1000, then Ten Thousand and before you know it, you will be deep in the pockets of criminals. Just don’t start. Unfortunately, once you are on the payroll of criminals, you are worse than that criminal, because you become a wolf in sheep skin, abusing the powers given to you by the people. We will deal with you decisively.

I wish to invite you once more, to join those of us who are already at the battlefront of a serious war which is threatening the very fibre, the backbone and pillar of our society: the war on Gender Based Violence. In fact, in the budget vote, this year was dedicated to this cause under the theme: “Safety of Women, Children and Vulnerable Groups is the Brighter Future for South Africa”. Officers, those who murder, rape, assault or even merely emotionally abuse odadewethu, ogogo bethu, izingane zethu are enemies of the state.

An even worse enemy is a police officer who protects or fails to take action against atrocious monsters who commit the heinous acts against women and children. From a total of 3701, this year, we have 1331 young female officers passing out, and 2370 male officers throughout the country. While we am confident that the young ladies will play their role in eradicating this scourge, I want to make a special call to the young male officers who are passing out today. Please assist our young ladies and form a brand new battalion of vicious watchdogs whose responsibility is to rid the community of and protect our women and children against these monsters.

You must know your Ministerial Six Point Plan on how you should respond to women and children in distress. Turning away a woman from a police to go back and sort out things with the man who only amounts to secondary abuse. Women must be at the forefront of leading the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS). Police stations must be places of haven for the abused, and not be places where our people in fact fear being further victimised by those who should protect them. Women, children and the elderly are our diamonds, they are our pearls that must be nurtured, cherished and protected at all times. 

May I hasten to say that the proportion of young women as compared to young men who are passing out is not pleasing. Only about 35% of trainees are women. National Commissioner, General Mgwenya, General Ntshiea, you have a role to play in ensuring that we have a balanced demographic from all the different segments of our community in our intake.

Furthermore, we have said that we need more trainees passing out of our academies. Our ratio of police officer per unit number of civilians is currently too low, as compared to other countries. The United Nations Standard for policing dictates that the ration should be 1 police officer for 200 civilians. Currently, South Africa is sitting at 1 officer to 383 people. National Commissioner, the more we increase our capacity, the better we will be at affording an excellent police service to our people. We must increasingly look at how we can accommodate more trainees in our academies. The bigger academies with excellent training facilities like Tshwane and Hammanskraal should be reserved for basic police training while the smaller academies should continue to serve as training centres for specialised units. That way, we are likely to have a better number of trainees who pass out per annum, and subsequently have increased personnel in the service.

Now ladies and gentlemen, I wish to boast that amongst this very group of trainees who are passing out, we have wielders of Masters Degrees, Honours Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, Diplomas, and such other higher education qualifications. I am impressed by the manner in which the SAPS is distancing itself from the reputation of being a body of people who chose to be police officers because they had no alternative career options. I have often been impressed by officers who continue to request bursaries to further their studies. Today, we confidently have young people who join the SAPS simply because of their urge and passion to execute this often thankless job.

I wish to encourage you, young officers, to further your studies. Do short courses offered in the SAPS, specialise in various policing disciplines. Attend refresher courses for your basics so as to ensure that you remain sharp, efficient and relevant in your field. That way, you will not be a rusty, tired police officer with a huge pot belly, who cannot even run, but still demands a promotion because he has spent 20 years in the service. Yes officers ought to and deserve to be promoted with experience and service to the SAPS. We are reworking the promotions policy to ensure that we do not have massive backlogs of officers who are due for promotion. However, one must demonstrate that they deserve and are still committed to being part of the service. Officers must remain healthy, energetic and sharp minded at all times.

Young officers, we have a huge task ahead. As you pass out, your first task is to fully join in Operation Quiet Storm, the Safer Festive Season Campaign which we launched recently. Go out there and work as teams. From the busy streets of Johannesburg to CapeTown, Mamelodi to eMlazi, Nqadu, Giyani, Hillbrow, South Beach, all Malls, outside Nightclubs, Stadiums, Eyadini and so on, we want to see you visible and arresting all those who make our people’s lives unsafe and unpleasant this festive season.

Finally, to the family members of these young, gallant officer, I really call on you to continue to be the first line of support for them. The task they have chosen is not easy. They will need your unwavering support.

I further call upon the community to support and partner with these young officers who have heeded the “Thuma Mina” call made by His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa. These officers come to the service at a delicate time in which we are approaching elections. I am confident that in partnership with the community and other stakeholders, the SAPS will help deliver calm, free and fair elections.

I wish you all the best as you continue to serve this Nation.

Thank you