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Adress by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the SAPS National Commemoration Day





Programme Director,
Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola,
Members of Parliament
Senior managers and members of the SAPS,
Representatives of labour unions and Community Policing Forums,
Families of our fallen police officers,
Members of the clergy,
Fellow South Africans,

This is a sombre occasion. Today we pay tribute to the hardworking men and women of the South African Police Service who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Every year on the first Sunday of September we pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate price whilst serving and protecting the South African people.

Deadly attacks on police officers are sadly once more on the rise. 

The Constitution mandates police to prevent, combat and investigate crime. It mandates them to maintain public order and protect the inhabitants of the Republic and their property. 

Theirs is the noble duty of ensuring that all people in South Africa are safe and feel safe.

The officers we are commemorating today lost their lives to criminals who have no regard for the rule of law.

The increase in the killings of police officers, whether on or off duty, demonstrates the level of desperation of criminals to remove any obstacle that is in the way of their criminal intent.

Attacks on police officers must come to an end.

There must be justice and there will be justice for the families of our fallen heroes and heroines.

The hard work of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, known as the Hawks, has resulted in the arrest of 76 suspected police murderers over the past year. These cases are currently before different courts. 

A total of 488 suspects have been arrested for deaths of police officers since 2018. 

Through diligent investigative work, nine convicted police killers were handed down nine life sentences, a sum total of 158 years imprisonment.

We must continue to arrest, prosecute and convict those who wilfully undermine the authority of State.

The members we are remembering today were spouses, parents, sons and daughters, siblings, colleagues, and so much more. Many of them were breadwinners.

Although the convictions of these criminals can never bring their loved ones back, it will comfort them knowing that justice has been served.

Today, we pay tribute to our fallen officers for their selflessness and for the sacrifice they made in the act of proudly serving and protecting all people in South Africa. 

The nature of policing means that at times our men and women in blue are put in harm’s way. 

Despite this, policemen and women wake up each day to report for duty so that we can all sleep peacefully at night and our children can play freely in the streets. 

To keep the legacy of the fallen 34 heroes and heroines alive, I call upon all serving police officers to ensure that these deaths are not in vain. You must remain steadfast in the fight against crime.

Minister Cele, I call upon you and the management of the South African Police Service to work together to ensure that police officers are safe while performing their duties.

Far too many of our officers are dying off duty. The SAPS management needs to deepen efforts to improve the wellness of officers. Police must be taken care of physically, mentally and psychologically.

Communities need to speak out against police killings. The lives of police officers should be valued not just by their colleagues, but by everyone who lives in our country. 

Police are there to protect communities and their properties. The relationship between police and communities needs to be strong. It needs to be a relationship of cooperation, trust and respect. 

We must all unite and work together to ensure we leave no space for criminals to operate in. 

On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, we thank the 34 fallen heroes and heroines posthumously for their bravery and service to the country, which they rendered diligently.

We want to thank their families who supported them throughout their careers in the SAPS, for having been their strength, their support and their comfort.

To the families of the fallen officers, we pray that you find peace and healing.

May their souls rest in peace.

I thank you.