Pretoria: At least 76 police officers were killed in the line of duty between April 2012 and March this year – an alarming number according to Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa.
“Being a police officer is naturally accompanied with elements of danger but that can never justify the violence perpetuated against our men and women in blue,” Mthethwa said on Sunday.
He was speaking during the annual South African Police Service Commemoration Day at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The event was attended by the police leadership led by National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, members of parliament, religious leaders and provincial MECs.
In 2010, Mthethwa announced a 10-point plan to combat police killings. It included the ‘adopt-a-cop’ awareness campaign, establishing a multi-disciplinary committee to co-ordinate responses to police killings and reviewing the ministerial task team’s report into police safety.
But despite these interventions, Mthethwa conceded on Sunday that the killing of police officers in South Africa was still rife.
“Gathering at this memorial site … is never a pleasant occasion. However, it is a duty that must be accorded to these gallant warriors,” Mthethwa said.
As Mthethwa spoke, some family members of the deceased police officers were seen trying to fight back tears.
He said government had developed various measures to curb police killings but called on society to do their part in protecting the men and women in blue. The killing of police officers was a threat to South Africa’s democracy.
“We are making a clarion call to corporate South Africa, business, and South Africans from all walks of life to support us.”
Mthethwa said the SAPS had begun with improving employee support through an implementation of an employee health and wellness programmes within the service.
He announced that a trust had been established to provide education support for children of the police officers killed in the line of duty.