Flak-jackets for all cops

2011-08-10 00:00

THE police will hold police station commanders responsible if an officer goes on duty without a bullet-proof jacket.

A letter from the office of General Bheki Cele, the national head of the SA Police Service, states that even officers who work in the charge office must wear bullet-proof jackets.

This letter, of which Beeld has a copy, is addressed to all deputy heads of police, divisional commissioners, provincial heads, commanders, the minister and the secretariat of police.

The letter states that it is compulsory for all operational officers to be in possession of a bullet-proof jacket at all times while on duty.

All police officers — even those working in the charge office — must wear a bullet-proof jacket at all times while on duty — and not only during high-risk operations or when responding to serious cases.

“Commanders at all levels will be held responsible if it is found that members did not heed this instruction.”

The letter states that the police have the best bullet-proof jacket available.

While it does not guarantee that the officer will not be hurt or killed when being shot at, the bullet-proof jacket lessens the impact of the round and reduces the chance of serious injury.

The police have 200 000 bullet-proof jackets, so there is no reason why police officers should not be wearing one, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said earlier.

National police spokesperson Captain Dennis Adriao said the instruction is not a new one, but rather a reminder.

He said the letter was not issued specifically in response to an incident last week at the Rosebank charge office during which the station commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Thandi Mkhize, was shot 14 times, while Captain Neelavathi Naidu was fatally wounded by David Kekana, a clerk who worked in the charge office.

Kekana committed suicide after the shooting.

Adriao said the letter was issued after several incidents that have seen police officers killed.

Fifty-eight police officers have been shot so far this year.

The letter advises police to use the equipment which could save their lives, such as bullet-proof jackets, firearms, torches and two-way radios.

But it goes further than previous instructions to warn that stronger measures will be taken against station and shift commanders because they should not send their members out without a bullet-proof jacket.

“Commanders must now take steps against members who do not wear bullet-proof jackets, otherwise steps will be taken against them,” said Adriao.

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