Be wary when criticising SAPS - Phiyega

2013-08-05 18:10
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Cape Town - Criticising the SA Police Service (SAPS) creates animosity between officers and their communities, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said on Monday.

"We must ask: Are we not creating animosity between police and communities with these utterances, which are unfortunate?" she said at the memorial service of three murdered police officers in Kuils River, Cape Town.

The officers were killed at the end of last month.

She said it was time to "introspect and think deeply" about what was being said about police, so that they were not positioned as the enemy.

Constable Lungisa Depha, 36, was shot dead on Sunday, 28 July while recording details at the scene of a car crash in Mitchell’s Plain.

Phiyega said he was arresting a suspected drunk driver at the time.

The same day, Sergeant Landile Yengo, 43, was shot in his Khayelitsha home while getting ready to go to work. He died on his way to hospital.

The next day, Sergeant Bafundi Mdlalo, 34, was shot dead in his Mitchell’s Plain home.

Seven police officers were killed in the province last month.

Phiyega said the Western Cape was being targeted.

In the past financial year, 303 officers were attacked in the province, compared to 77 attacks in Gauteng.

"...These criminals, whether they like it or not, are under a lot of pressure," she said.

"I have a message for them. We will not back down."

Phiyega said criminals were not welcome.

"This is not a country for criminals. We shall reclaim this space for our nation.

"Those who are not interested in staying in this peaceful, wonderful country of ours can take leave."

Criticising the police

Last week, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa also questioned criticism directed at the police.

"What we are saying is that criticising the police is not a problem if they think there are weaknesses. But if they say nothing positive, they open them [police] up to criminal attack," he told Sapa.

He was referring to the Western Cape community safety department's increasing criticism of police in the province.

At the start of the memorial service on Monday, Phiyega and family members were led to a table in front with photos of the officers, surrounded by thick white candles and flower arrangements.

Their widows, dressed in black, collapsed at the sight of the photos and were escorted, wailing, back to their seats.

One of the dead officers' young daughters, dressed in a frilly pink dress, sucked a lollipop and played on the floor, seemingly unaware of what was going on.

Police colleagues and relatives in the large hall sang a mournful tune as Phiyega lit the candles and gazed into the flames for a moment.

The officers would be buried in the Eastern Cape at a date still to be confirmed.

Read more on:    police  |  riah phiyega  |  nathi mthethwa  |  cape town

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