Fallen heroes remembered

Sunday, September 4, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria-President Jacob Zuma says the number of police officers who have been killed on duty is unacceptable and the loss to their families and the State is immeasurable. 

Zuma was speaking at the South African Police Service (SAPS) National Commemoration Day at the Union Buildings on Sunday.

The SAPS National Commemoration Day is a day set aside to celebrate and pay tribute to members of the police who died on duty. Since January this year, 60 police officers have been killed. 

"The killing of police officers hits at the belly of the State because these are men and women who are supposed to protect our people and ensure law and order in our country. Criminals who attack them are therefore, daring the State and are challenging the might of the State," he said.

"We cannot advocate a trigger happy attitude amongst our policemen and women, but at the same time, they should not hesitate to protect themselves and civilians around them when they are attacked. As part of a strategy to protect our police officials, SAPS has issued instructions pertaining to training, usage of bullet proof vests and deployment mechanisms during crime call-outs," he said. 

There are over 200 000 bullet proof vests in the SAPS, meaning, there are more vests than the numbers of police officers in the country. 

"We urge members to wear these vests at all times and to treat each crime call-up as serious and potentially life-threatening," said President Zuma. 

He further said more attention is being given to specialised training and firearm handling to ensure that police officers who respond to crime scenes are properly-trained and ready for any eventuality. 

"This we are doing in part by changing the police training period from 12 to 24 months, incorporating both theoretical and practical aspects," he said. 

Zuma said the killed police officers whom the country is paying tribute to, paid the ultimate price for fighting crime. 

"Today, we pay our respects to these fallen heroes and heroines, and acknowledge their contribution to the drive to make our country crime free and safer.

"The police men and women that we are paying tribute to today paid the ultimate price for fighting crime and we acknowledge that supreme sacrifice, and reiterate our deepest condolences to the families," he said. 

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said last year, a total of 107 police officers were killed, adding, he remains convinced that if the nation can work together in fighting crime, the senseless killing of police officers will stop.-BuaNews