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SAPS Annual National Commemoration Day welcoming address delivered by Police Minister Gen Bheki Cele
2020/09/06

Pretoria

Programme Director;

The Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Mr David Mabuza;

Deputy Minister of Police, Mr C Mathale;

Members of the Executive Council;

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police Ms Tina Joemat – Pettersson and members of the Portfolio Committee;

National Commissioner of the SAPS, General KJ Sitole;

Entities under the Department of Police;

Deputy National Commissioners; Provincial Commissioners and Divisional Commissioners;

Secretary of Police Mr Alvin Rapea;

Entities under the Department of Police;

Members of the South African Police Service Education Trust;

Representatives of Organised Labour;

SAPS members present;

Religious Faith Based organisations;

Families and loved ones of our fallen heroes and heroines;

Distinguished guests;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen;

MOMENT OF SILENCE

(May I kindly request that we all stand and observe a moment of silence, in memory and honour of our fallen officers that we are commemorating today)

I wish to greet you all present here this morning on this somber occasion.

Allow me to extend my warm greetings to those who are connecting with us virtually, from the different provinces.

As I stand here before you, I am reminded of the words …

“It is not in numbers, but in UNITY, that our greatest strength lies.”

Yes, there are fewer of us gathered here to commemorate our fallen officers today.

But the lesser numbers don’t diminish the gravity of our collective pain and loss.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are paying homage to officers in blue who gave up their lives for the service of this country.

These officers last day on earth, started like any other.

They got up, got ready for work and kissed their families goodbye.

But their work, and that of all the officers of the SAPS, is like no other.  For the moment they put on that uniform, they answered a call to serve and to protect.

Even if it meant putting their lives, in harms way.

Sadly, these 40 officers didn’t make it back home.

And for that, they are deserving of our respect and honour.

Programme Director,

The South African Police Service is highly honoured, with the decision to elevate the coordination of the National Commemoration Day, to the level of the Presidency.

We are honoured by the presence of the honourable Deputy President, His Excellency Mr David Mabuza.

Sir, we are humbled by your continued support through your presence, which lends dignity and solemnity to this occasion.

This is indeed befitting to the fallen heroes and heroines.

Equally, let me extend a warm welcome to the families of our fallen heroes and heroines.

To the partners, the parents, children, siblings, relatives friends and colleagues of the departed officers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year’s commemoration takes place amid a global pandemic that has affected the South African Police Service, in more ways than one.

COVID-19 has robbed us of capable men and women, many who succumbed to the virus while on the frontlines.

This virus has robbed us as the Police Service of our tradition to bid the men and women of the law, with a befitting official SAPS send-off.

This morning, COVID-19 shows us it has no sense of occasion.

The virus robs us of an opportunity to come together in our collective loss  and comfort eachother as the SAPS and the families of our fallen members.

Keeping in line with the Disaster Management Act regulations,

We have a limited number of people present here today.

Allow me to acknowledge three departed officers based in Gauteng;

Sergeant Herbst, Warrant Officer Grobler-Koonin and Constable Langa.

Their families join us here in Pretoria and the families of the remaining 37 fallen officers are following proceedings at various venues in other provinces.

The provincial commemorations are taking place in the home provinces of the officers we are commemorating.

The provincial events are hosted by the Provincial Commissioners together with the MEC’s of Community Safety.

My message to ALL the loved ones -  Isizwe sonke sikhala nani!

I hope you to find comfort in the words of Archbishop Emeritus, Desmod Tutu who said I quote;

“Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness.” end quote

May you find some closure, knowing that your loved ones were the calibre of officers who served and protected the people of this country.

They served the nation with diligence and utmost determination.

We know that the majority of officers in this police service, do an incredibly hard and dangerous job.

Yet they do it fairly and professionally. 

This is why I will continue to be LOUD on the call that says ‘any attack to a police officer is a direct attack to the authority of the state and it should be regarded as Treason!

Programme Director

The pain of some of these families, I have witnessed first hand.

I have been with many of them during their darkest hours.

I have visited their family homes.

I have attended and addressed memorial services held in their honour.

And I have accompanied some to their final resting place in many parts of the country.

Losing one of our own truly cuts deep.

Collectively sending off one of our own – no matter the rank – has become an unprecedented tradition in the police service.

The attendance of senior management at funerals of departed members, adds value to the occasion and also boosts morale.

But with the advent of COVID-19, again this virus robs us as the SAPS of our tradition, which is to give thes e members a befitting send off.

In closing,

While we mourn the passing of these public servants, we must equally celebrate their lives.

As we celebrate their stance to serve, we must find inspiration in the fact that they were head and shoulders above their peers with their fearlessness and courage.

The deaths of these 40 members should not be in vain.

Their loss should remind us all, of the importance of community policing partnerships and the need for all of us to be active in the fight against crime.

Once again I welcome you all, Ni wamukelekile nonke.

I thank you.