President Jacob Zuma: Commemoration Day of the South African Police Service

Day of the South African Police Service, SAPS Memorial, Union Buildings, Pretoria

The Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Nhleko,

National Commissioner, management and members of the Police Service,

Families of our fallen police officers,

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

Fellow South Africans,

We greet you all on this important occasion.

I welcome in particular the families of our police officers who have lost their lives through callous attacks by criminals. We are happy that you could join this important occasion where we pay tribute to the men and women who risk their lives to make South Africa free of crime.

September is known as Heritage Month and Tourism Month. What is less known is that it is also Police Safety Month. We want to use this month for each of us to promote better working relations between the police and the public. We also want to use September to highlight the fight against attacks on our police officers nationwide.

The Constitution of the Republic outlines the duties of the police service as being to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law.

This noble task is performed under difficult conditions. The violent history of our country as a result of apartheid colonialism has created a fertile ground for violent crime and a disregard for human life by some criminal elements in our society.

We thus have to confront the hard reality that crime in South Africa is violent and that criminals in our country do not hesitate to take the life of another human being, whether he or she be a police officer or a civilian.

A total of 58 police officers have been killed since January this year, 27 on duty and 31 off duty.

A total of 63 officers were killed on duty between April 2014 and March 2015. Even the death of one police officer would be one too many and would be unacceptable.

Criminals totally disregard all the values in the Constitution including the right to life.

Today, we pay tribute and register our respect to fallen police officers who undertake the important task of fighting crime and defending our hard won democracy under taxing conditions.

We acknowledge the pain that their loved ones have gone through. We wish to express our heartfelt condolences today directly to the families, on behalf of all the people of our country.

Your pain is our pain.

Sizwelana nayo yonke imindeni elahlekelwe ngenxa yokukubulawa kwamaphoyisa ezweni, osekudlangile.

Sithi ukulahlekelwa kwenu ukulahlekelwa kwezwe lonke ngoba lamalungu emindeni yenu esishiye kabuhlungu kanje, abevikela umphakathi wonke.

Kubuhlungu kithina njengohulumeni futhi kuyasithukuthelisa kakhulu impela.

Ukubulala iphoyisa kukhombisa ukwedelela uhulumeni ngendlela eyisimanga.

Kubonisa ukuthi kunabantu abangawuhloniphi umthetho, Futhi abangahloniphi nomthethosisekelo wezwe nelungelo lempilo lawo wonke umuntu wase-Ningizimu Afrika.

The callous murder of your loved ones was an attack not only on them, but on the State itself. The police represent the authority of the State. They form the bulwark between order and anarchy.

The police require the support of the State to ensure that they are strengthened and fortified to be able to respond to crime head on, to protect not only themselves but the nation as a whole.

I have directed the Minister of Police to do everything possible to provide the police with the tools they need to fight crime effectively, and to protect themselves.

A National Tactical Response Plan has been developed to immediately respond effectively to the murders of police officers.

All commanders have been instructed to ensure that the Plan is implemented with immediate effect.

In addition to the Plan, Station and Relief Commanders have also been instructed to ensure that compliance with the Directives and Standing Orders of the SAPS, especially those that have a direct influence on the safety and well-being of every member in the South African Police Service.

Among some of the issues requiring urgent compliance are:

Conducting of on and off duty parades in terms of the SAPS Standing Order (G) 256 during which the following matters must receive attention:

The inspection of members to ensure that they are properly equipped with the necessary safety gear and equipment; including the wearing of a Bullet Resistant Vest,

Briefing of police officers in respect of dangerous suspects or expected situations when reporting for duty,

Inspection of firearms to ensure that firearms are clean, in good working condition and are well maintained,

Sharing of national safety hints, guidelines, directives or contingency planning to enhance awareness amongst operational members; and

Conducting of regular visits to operational members during the performance of their duties during their respective working shifts.

Furthermore, all Operational Commanders are now tasked with ensuring that routine monitoring and evaluation visits are conducted at police stations and units to ensure that police officers at all levels comply with the Directives.

The management of the SAPS has also instructed that multi-disciplinary assessment teams be established at Provinces and Divisions to conduct on-site assessment of all incidents where police officers were killed.

This will enable government to identity the modus operandi of the criminals as well as the circumstances and conditions under which such police officers were killed.

This will inform the further development and implementation of appropriate preventative or developmental measures.

The SAPS is also hard at work to ensure that we elevate the safety of our officers while carrying out their constitutional mandate to protect and to serve by putting into place a National Police Safety Plan.

The Police Safety Strategy will prioritise the following;

Improved training of our members;

Physical Security;

Trauma management and social support mechanisms;

Strengthening partnerships;

Police safety assessments, policies, guidelines, procedures; and

Research and information management.

Most of the affected police officers were breadwinners and left dependants behind. Through the South African Police Service Education Trust, the children of fallen police officers should be able to complete their education.

The Trust has, from 2013 to date invested almost nine hundred thousand rand (R900 000) on 33 beneficiaries registered at Universities, Universities of Technology as well as further education and vocational training colleges. There are also four beneficiaries who are still in high school.


The fight against crime requires the participation of all South Africans.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to call upon all South Africans to work with the police to create safer communities.

The public must contribute to the creation of a more conducive environment for police to fight crime decisively. This must be done by reporting all criminal activities to the police.

The criminals who terrorise communities and who kill our police officers as well live in our communities and are known by many within communities.

They must not be protected. They must be reported to the police so that they can face the full might of the law.

Members of the public must also refrain from behaviour that perpetuates crime. When people buy stolen goods, they create a market for criminals and put the lives of all in the country including our police officers in danger.

Stop buying stolen goods whether these are cars, television sets or cellphones and close the market for criminals.

To the members of SAPS, as we observe Police Safety Month, remember that your safety, as police officers, remains our primary concern.

It should be your concern too.

We urge you to defend yourselves with everything at your disposal if you are attacked, within the confines of the law. Our laws allow the police to fight back decisively when their lives or those of the public are threatened.

Criminals must know that our police officers are not sitting ducks. They will fight back when their lives or those of the public are in danger.

At the same time, the police must act within the law at all times and avoid using excessive force. The Minister of Police is working on a major transformation plan for the police following the tragic and painful Marikana incident, which will take all these challenges into account.


We have amongst us today one thousand students who are currently undergoing two years of police training at the Tshwane Academy of the SAPS. They will be placed at various police stations around the country to serve and protect all in our country.

We invited them to this important occasion so that they can be inspired by the hard work of their predecessors in defending our democracy and making South Africa a safer place for all.

We salute all our fallen police officers. We appreciate their commitment to the wellbeing and safety of the people of this country.

We salute you as their families.

Your loved ones have paid a supreme price for peace and stability. Their contribution to building a safer South Africa will always be remembered by all your compatriots.

Emindenini yonke sithi duduzekani. Akwehlanga lungehli. Silahlekelwe sonke ezweni ngokuhamba kwalamaqhawe.

May their souls rest in eternal peace!

I thank you.