Educational trust to benefit children of fallen police officers

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pretoria - In what police has described as a first-of-its-kind, the South African Police Service (SAPS) is to establish an educational trust fund that will benefit children whose parents or guardians have died in the line of duty.

Speaking on Sunday at the SAPS National Commemoration Day to honour the 110 police officers who died in the line of duty during the past financial year, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said SAPS Education Trust Fund is expected to be fully operational by January 2011.

The minister noted that many of the police officers who died were fairly young and even though SAPS pays out their pensions and policy benefits it was "evidently impossible" that those payments would sustain the loved ones that were left behind.

"The criteria in terms of permissibility into this trust fund will be voluntary but consideration will be on the neediest," he added.

Mthethwa stressed that no monetary value could be placed on the lives of the fallen police officers.

"While we could never bring them to life, we remain convinced that the best form of legacy we can implant is towards investing in their children's education," he added.

The minister said that the dedication and contribution of the 110 police officers would never be forgotten and labelled them as heroes.

"These heroes and heroines were the shields of the nation and carried with them immense responsibilities on their shoulder. They protected, served and empowered with excellence, right until their untimely passing," he added.

Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele said the officers had paid the "ultimate price" and he could only imagine what the families of the police officers were going through.

Paying recognition to the police officer who had died was an opportunity for the public to realise the gruelling, demanding and life threatening circumstances policemen and women had to endure, he added.

Cele said the police management viewed attacks on its members very seriously and that stringent measures had been put in place and other measures were being explored to put a stop to the callous killing of police officers.

These measures include ensuring that firearms were safe; that members took the necessary safety precautions; and that specialised unit had the necessary skills to respond to specific situations.

"The loss of our members is not only a huge loss to the families and to SAPS it is also a massive loss to the people of South Africa," he added.

Describing the murder of any police officers as intolerable, Cele said such acts should not go unpunished and called for courts to mete out the harshest penalties possible to those who were responsible for killing police officers.