They are known as sharpshooters, officers of last resort who are commonly deployed in volatile situations where deploying ordinarily trained police officers could be risky.
These are the 11 newly trained officers who graduated from a two-year special task force (STF) training and officially joined their equals during a parade in Pretoria west on Thursday.
The officers, among them a 31-year-old woman constable from the Western Cape whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons, formed part of a platoon of male police officers who were bestowed with their STF parachute wings by the national commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola.
They are trained for a high level of skill in weapon proficiency, advanced para-military rural tactics, advanced tactical policing for high-risk incidents, hostage release tactics in a variety of high-risk incidents, as well as the ability to deploy operationally by parachute into rural environments.
The task force is the only paramilitary unit in the SA Police Service which falls under the police's specialised operations component commanded by Major-General Nonhlanhla Zulu.
Masemola said the organisation was impressed by the graduation and welcomed the first woman officer to complete the intense training.
“All members on parade have shown dedication and commitment to their profession. The STF selection criteria are very stringent and those who are selected must prove their mettle throughout their intensive and rigorous training.”
The unit was established in 1976 and its mandate includes responding and providing operational support only to high-risk incidents.