There's something wrong with SA where killing police officers is the norm: Cele

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Minister Bheki Cele (Photo: @GovernmentZA/Twitter)
Minister Bheki Cele (Photo: @GovernmentZA/Twitter)
  • Popcru calls for an urgent intervention to curb the killing of police officers in the country.
  • The union was reacting to the killing of 34 officers in the country between April 2020 and March 2021.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says the killing of police officers has become normal in South Africa.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has called for an end to police killings a mere 24-hours after the country remembered 34 officer officers who lost their lives.

The officers lost their lives between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, and Popcru has urged the South African Police Services (SAPS) leadership and Police Minister Bheki Cele to put in place more effort to curb the killings.

The union said if SAPS management could swiftly iron out some issues, morale would lift among police members.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said criminals were running amok, wiping out the SAPS workforce on the ground and has called for an urgent meeting between the SAPS leadership and Cele.

Mamabolo said:

… in the main, we want to intensely discuss the issue around police killings. These are, in our view, targeted killings, and we feel that despite regularly raising the matter, nothing is being done about it.

"The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police is also silent, except when complaints are made against the police. All these people are quiet about underlying challenges like the uneven allocation of resources within the SAPS, budget cuts and [a] declining staff complement.

"We want to discuss underlying factors behind these killings and ultimately jointly with communities come up with a way to revitalise relations and work together."  

Recent killings

On 23 August, Sergeant Pumlani Dastile from the Eastern Cape Provincial Organised Crime unit was following up on a business robbery when two unknown suspects shot and killed him.

Three days later, Sergeant Sharon Mogale and her colleague Sergeant Mapule Petje from Tembisa police station were ambushed and robbed of their service weapons inside a shop in the area.

Mogale was shot in the head and succumbed to her injuries. Petje was not injured during the attack.

Sergeant Sharon Mogale
Sergeant Sharon Mogale was shot and killed by armed robbers in Tembisa.
Supplied by SAPS

On 27 August, Sergeant Nkosinathi Ngcobo from Richards Bay Police Station was shot and killed while driving in his government vehicle around the Nyanda area in KwaZulu-Natal.

He was also robbed of his service pistol and personal belongings.

Cele said Ngcobo's stolen firearm was used to kill Mtubatuba, traffic officers Sizwe Sithole, 48 and Mxolisi Lamula, 36, on 30 August. The pair were ambushed and killed inside their official car while doing their routine patrols on the N2 off-ramp to Nkodibe.

They were also robbed of their state service firearms.

READ |  Defend yourselves and others 'within the confines of the law', Ramaphosa tells police officers

"Besides criminals targeting officers, there is a lot of internal work that needs to be improved. The SAPS might not immediately have solutions for police killings, however, we believe in the collective effort as this is not an event but a process that needs all on board

"In ensuring the respectability of officers, we need to address these underlying challenges and ensure regular engagement with communities. They should have an active role beyond just oversight, as the crime happens among us all. It cannot be the sole responsibility of the police," said Mamabolo.

Popcru said some of the challenges that must be fixed included providing tools of their trade, training, and the issue of budget cuts.

Mamabolo said police officers still receive a R400 danger allowance, the same amount they have received since 2001.

"The death benefits [paid to] slain officers' families [mean they are] are struggling to make ends meet with the R200 000 benefit, while post-traumatic stress disorders continue to climb," said Mamabolo.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Cele, and SAPS leadership added the 34 names of the slain officers to the many who fell prior to the wall of remembrance.

Families and relatives attended the sombre remembrance event.

Ramaphosa called on the SAPS to implement its police safety strategy, for officers to defend their own lives and those of citizens against criminals.

The President said that those who kill police officers were undermining the State. 

"Unfortunately, we have some in our society who have absolutely no regard for the patriotic duty discharged by our police officers. These are the people who attack our men and women in uniform and thus undermine the authority of the democratic state

"... I call on you to honour your departed colleagues by remaining vigilant at all times and ensuring that no police officer dies at the hands of criminals," Ramaphosa said.

Speaking during the funeral of a fallen officer over the weekend, Cele said there was total silence in the country when his officers were killed.

"There are countries where if you bury three police officers in a single weekend, there would be real and loud outcries. Here this is becoming normal. There is something wrong with us South Africans... something needs to be fixed in us South Africans. The system needs to be fixed and tightened against criminals.

"We are too soft on criminals. South Africa needs to change and say, 'not in our name', where criminals are better than the victims of crime," Cele said.

The police minister said the killings of officers should remind the nation about the importance of community policing partnerships.

Cele called on citizens to stop being bystanders while crime is being committed.

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