Police Minister Bheki Cele has urged citizens to work alongside the police to stem the tide against criminals targeting members of the police force.
CITIZENS have been urged to work alongside the police to stem the tide against criminals targeting members of the police force.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said this during the annual National Police Day Commemoration ceremony at the Union Buildings on Sunday. In extending his condolences to the friends, families, children and colleagues of 34 members of the force who were killed in the line of duty, he also sent his condolences to those who had succumbed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This number of police members who perished at the hands of criminals was recorded from April 1 last year until March 31. Cele also said there were a total of 852 members who succumbed to Covid-19-related complications since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
“The reality is that to us the pain goes beyond the numbers. It is there when we see police stations with the severe shortage of members, but the pain cuts even more deeply to the parents, the spouses, children and families of our fallen men and women in blue because of the sudden and untimely departure of their loved ones.”
Cele said the moment was even harder as just this weekend the force had buried three of its own, who were targeted for their service pistols and killed mercilessly by criminals.
Cele said he had attended the funerals of Sergeant Nkosinathi Ngcobo in KwaZulu-Natal and Sergeant Pumlani Dastile in the Eastern Cape on Friday.
Even though the country had been celebrating Women’s Month, Cele said it was heartbreaking that they had to bid farewell to Sergeant Sharon Mogale from Ekurhuleni, who was gunned down and had her service pistol stolen.
“How I wish we as a country could reach a point where there is no longer a need to have this annual tradition; because our officers are no longer dying while serving their communities.
“The deaths of these 34 members should not be in vain. Their loss should remind us all as a nation of the importance of community policing partnerships because it is clear that citizens can no longer afford to be bystanders in their communities.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in addressing the members and the families of the fallen officers, echoed Cele’s sentiments that perpetrators of attacks on police had to be brought to book.
He also agreed the fight against crime could not be won by the police on their own.
“I want to call upon the public to partner with the police in the fight against crime.
“It is because of structures such as the community police forums that the police, the SA National Defence Force and other law enforcement agencies were able to contain the violence and looting that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.”
Ramaphosa added that criminals “lived with us and among us” in the communities.
Merisha Sagrys, who lost her partner and father of their 10-year-old daughter Boitshepo Kgaratsi on July 15 last year, said they were still battling to come to terms with the death.
“It’s stressful because I am raising a four-month-old baby alone and she will never get to know her father but will have to settle for the pictures we have of him.”