SAPS management to go all out to protect officers

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pretoria - Police management will make tough and targeted decisions to ensure the safety of police officers, says Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu.

Speaking at the memorial service for reservist Constable Busisiwe Gloria Mehlwana in Soweto on Wednesday, Sotyu said police management and government have had enough of the spate of police killings recently.

Mehlwana, 33, was gunned down when she responded to an ATM bombing in Pimville last week.

A group of heavily armed men bombed an ATM inside a shop at a garage and shot Mehlwana when she and a colleague arrived at the scene.

Sotyu described those responsible for Mehlwana's death as "heinous".

"Earlier in our history, there was a culture of respect, even amongst the hardened criminals that, you as a man would never harm a woman; certainly never kill a woman. These days, criminals do not care whether it is a six-month old baby, an 80-year-old elder, or a 33-year-old mother of two," she added.

Just last week at a summit against police killings, police, with the support of other organisations, committed themselves to ensuring that the safety of the men and women in blue was improved, Sotyu said.

"Yes, that means providing our police officers with matching firepower. No more will our police officers be outgunned by these thugs," she added.

In addition, the wearing of bullet proof vests when responding to crimes would be enforced.

"With the new policing approach to police officer safety, we will make sure our police officers are continuously trained, retraining, and refreshing skills for crime combat zones," Sotyu said.

The deputy minister said she was reminded of how much the country owed the families of police officers when she met with Mehlwana's family.

She called for Mehlwana's children to get their due benefits without any red tape, adding that counselling services would be made available to the police woman's family.