Emotional burial for slain cop

2010-06-15 09:17

Johannesburg - Members of the police force have to choose whether they want to be heroes or gangsters.

This was what the national head of police, General Bheki Cele, said on Monday at the military funeral of Sergeant Gert du Toit, 34, in Johannesburg.

Du Toit, a member of the K9 unit (the former dog unit) in Johannesburg, was shot dead by cash-in-transit robbers in Protea South, Soweto, last Saturday.

Cele told his family that they could be proud of him.

"You can walk proudly out of this church. He died for what he believed in."

The NG church in Forest Hill, southern Johannesburg, was filled to capacity. After the service, a march was held in front of the church.

The band and members of the K9 unit walked in file behind the coffin.


Cele said he was worried about police members who were "becoming rotten themselves".

"We have to guard against being different people by day and by night."

He referred to the R5 assault rifles that were found on the crime scene.

"There is only one organisation that uses these weapons and that is the SA police force."

"You have to choose which you want to be," he told police members.

"Don't run with us, but hunt with them."

He said honourable police officers were often accused of making war talk, but a war had already been declared against them.

Cele railed against "those who criticise the police from their air-conditioned offices".

"Academics and analysts aren't here today. They don't know what we are going through.

"The criminals have declared war against us. Yes, our job is firstly to arrest people, but if we do that and the situation endangers our lives, we have to fight back."

Cele said other people could then call the police "trigger-happy" if they wanted to.

"The reality is there is today a little girl who is facing a life without a father."

Du Toit, or Toitjie, as he was known amongst his colleagues, left his wife, Alicia, and stepdaughter Caitlan, 6.

Human rights

Cele said he was at the Protea police office shortly after the suspects had been arrested in connection with Du Toit's murder.

"There was already a lawyer at the police station to represent the suspects and protect their human rights. But perhaps we are too accommodating with these 'human rights'," said Cele.

"No right is after all bigger than the right to human life."

One of the three suspects arrested for Du Toit's murder appeared briefly in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court last week.

The case against this suspect from Vereniging, who apparently worked as a security guard for Protea Coin, was postponed to June 24.

The possibility could not be excluded that police members were part of the group of almost 15 cash-in-transit robbers who were responsible for Du Toit's death.