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Speaker notes of Gen Phiyega at the memorial service of late Const Njabulo Buthelezi, Const James Seolwane and Const Celimpilo Hlabisa
2015/08/04

Honourable Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Maggie Sotyu

MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane

Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Mothiba

Deputy Provincial Commissioners

Cluster and Station Commanders

All Spiritual Leaders

Representatives of POPCRU and SAPU

Beloved families of Constables Buthelezi, Seolwane and Hlabisa  

Senior officers

Friends and colleagues of our dearly departed

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning, Sanibonani, Dumelang, Molweni, Ndi Matsheloni! Goeie môre. Greetings to you all in the Mighty name of our Lord and Saviour. 

Today on this sombre occasion, we bleed tears of blue as we unite in sadness to yet again bid farewell to our fallen heroes in blue. We measure our life not by its duration, but by the sacrifices made. 

This was surely visible in the lives of Constable Njabulo Buthelezi, Constable James Seolwane and Constable Celimpilo Hlabisa’s contribution to their fellow citizens. 

Although every police official acknowledges that their duties contain a great deal of danger, the calling to protect and to serve is so great, that danger seems insignificant. They wore their badges courageously and performed their duties with passion. They had an unwavering commitment to their duties, a duty in which every minute of the day holds the threat of losing their own lives while safeguarding others. 

Today we salute their bravery and commitment. They never hesitated for a moment to answer the call of duty and to make any sacrifice required of them. They put their lives in danger to defend and preserve the lives of others who were under attack by ruthless criminals. As John 15:13 states: “No greater love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”   

Our sons in blue leave behind heartbroken families and devastated colleagues. Believe me when I say we feel your pain, share in your sorrow and we acknowledge the huge sacrifices they have made. To witness my fellow citizens’ heartache and pain, in losing a son, husband, father, friend and colleague, leaves me with sorrow, shock and grief. At every occasion that I come face to face with the many deaths of police officials and have to deal with the emotions and trauma suffered by the family and colleagues, my heart breaks.

Fellow mourners, families, friends and colleagues, we must stand together and end the criminal mentality, and flush out all criminals from our midst. We must not remain silent or oblivious to the deeds of criminals, but report them to the police. 

In carrying the baton forward with pride, diligence and vigour, my lucid call today, let us together be invincible, yet firm in serving and protecting our fellow South Africans with dynamism and commitment. We, as the SAPS, will continue our fight against crime with relentless dedication.

We will not forget the valuable contribution made by our fallen heroes to the fight against crime.

We welcome the fact that our President, the Honourable Mr Zuma, has –as the highest authority in the country – voiced his concern at the number of police officials who have been killed during the course of this year.  Both SAPS and Metro police men and women are bearing the brunt of the criminal element’s wrath, as they are the people who are standing between the criminals and the communities.  These men and women in blue are just as intent on stopping these thugs from causing havoc as the ruthless criminals are intent on taking what is not theirs, even human lives. 

In conclusion, I would like to quote from a poem entitled “Tears of a Cop”, author unknown. 

I have been where you fear to go…

I have seen what you fear to see…

I have done what you fear to do…

All these things I’ve done for you.

I am the one you lean upon…

The one you cast your scorn upon…

The one you bring your troubles to…

All these things I’ve been for you.

And through the years I’ve come to see…

That I’m not what you ask of me…

So take this badge and take this gun…

Will you take it?  Will anyone?

And when you watch a person die…

And hear a battered baby cry…

Then so you think that you can be…

All those things you ask of me?

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, this bring home what is asked of a police officer on the beat.  And at the same time, there is always that terrible knowledge that each day on the beat can be your last.  This must end.  We must all work together to say that we cannot carry on in this manner and we must work closely together – the police, the community, leaders – to end this. 

To our fallen heroes, Constable Buthelezi, Constable Seolwane and Constable Hlabisa, “In God’s loving arms, these men shall ever rest, their badges shining proudly upon their blue chests.”

All three constables died at the coal face of the fight against crime, all three were proud uniformed police officers and all three were taken from us while on duty responding to a call-out which could have been routine, but which ended tragically. The three constables were all in the prime of their lives, in their mid-thirties and had been members of the SAPS for between six to eleven years. The loss to their birth families and to their family in blue cannot be measured.

Thanks to the families for the gracious privilege in sharing these dear members’ lives with us. Grace be with you all.