Address by the Deputy President, Mr David Mabuza, on the occasion of the National Commemoration Day of the South African Police, Union Buildings
The Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele,
Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Cassel Mathale,
National Commissioner of the SAPS, Mr Khehla Sitole,
MEC for Community Safety from all our Province,
Management and Members of the SAPS,
Representatives of SAPU, POPCRU, and PSIRA,
Families of Our Deceased Police Officers,
Distinguished guests, and
Ladies and gentlemen:
It my greatest honour to join you today as we commemorate the fallen heroes and heroines of the South African Police Service.
We are all gathered here to solemnly honour the brave men and women who selflessly swore to serve our country, and indeed they served South Africa with distinction placing their lives in the harms way.
We take this opportunity to salute these deceased heroes and heroines, and say to their families and colleagues, your loss is our loss, your pain is our pain, your grief is a grief shared by all South Africans.
We say this as a recognition that police officers are as rare and steadfast patriots who place their lives, on a daily basis, on the line for the cause of keeping us all safe and protected.
And so, today we pay homage to these men and women who dedicated their adult lives to serve their country, protect their communities, and guard the welfare of all citizens without fear and favour.
To the families, friends and colleagues of our fallen heroes and heroines, whose names are now engraved in this Memorial Site, rest assured that their death was not in vain. The scripture teaches us that in suffering and pain, there is born perseverance which in turn leads to strong character and hope.
Whilst we are here to mourn our departed police officers, who lost their lives in the line of duty, in the same vein, we are here to honour their memory.
We are here to honour the memory of brave police officers who prioritised the safety and well-being of the people above themselves.
We honour the living memory of police officers who undoubtedly understood the true meaning of public service, which is about working for, and, in consultation with the community.
We are here not only to grieve for these fallen police officers, as we surely must, but also to find meaning in the courageous lives these police officers displayed. They strived to maintain law and order and to uphold public safety without discrimination.
We remember the Twenty-Six law enforcement officers and One reservist who were callously murdered. We join their families, friends and colleagues, in stating upfront that their death is etched in our memories and in this Memorial Site.
Ladies and gentlemen, as government, we are pleased that the month of September is declared the National Police Safety Month. During this month, we should all communicate and spread far and wide, the message of police safety.
We should raise awareness on the need for active partnerships between the police and the public.
Partnerships between the police and the public should be widely supported and strengthened by all citizens and communities. We must all join the call by the Minister of Police “to work together in squeezing the space for criminals to zero”.
It is in active police-public partnerships that we shall restore stability and order. It is in active police-public partnerships that we will prevent the wanton murder of our police officers.
We emphasise this, because the maintenance of law and order is not only the function of the South African Police Service whose members are killed effecting arrests, responding to false complaints, at stop-and-search operations, in vehicle accidents, and by suspects resisting arrests.
Rather, the police service needs and requires visible and tangible cooperation from community members who, in the first instance, know where illegal substances are being sold; who know where stolen merchandise are being sold; who know where alleged rapists and murderers are being hidden.
Our dedicated officers are fully aware of the risks they take on a daily basis. But their patriotism and love for their country, its citizens and communities is far bigger than any fear they may harbour.
The police cannot discharge their function alone, instead they need the daily cooperation and continuous assistance from the community to deal decisively with crime. After all, it is not the police that are responsible for the commission of rapes, of armed robberies, or for sexual violations of our women and girl-children.
It is the primary patriotic duty and responsibility of citizens and communities to work with government in dealing with the contextual causes of criminal behaviour.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that, indeed, a safe and secure South Africa is not only beneficial for our citizens and communities. Equally, a safe and secure environment is also beneficial for safer places for our children to learn, for our healthcare workers to work effectively, and for the attraction of investments and promotion of tourism.
Our collective and integrated response to combat and investigate crime, is mandated by Section 205 of the Constitution of the Republic.
In this regard, it is encouraging that practical measures like the National Police Safety Plan are being put in place to reduce attacks on the police and to prevent their killings at the hands of criminal elements.
Fellow South Africans,
While the death of loved ones has no monetary price and material value, we are pleased that the South African Police Services, continues to demonstrate its support to the families of the heroes and heroines that are in the Roll of Honour at this Memorial Site.
We wish to thank the Minister of Police together with the entire senior management of the Department of Police, for their continued support to families of our fallen heroes and heroines.
Without doubt, it is most unfortunate to lose a loved one through killing while upholding the law and order of this country.
On this SAPS National Commemoration Day, allow me to once again say to the families, friends and colleagues of the slain heroes and heroines that are honoured at this Memorial Site, an attack on a police officer is indeed a direct attack on South Africa.
As government, we will do whatever is possible to support you. We encourage you to be strong and carry on to live your lives, in memory of the deceased law enforcement officers.
To the families, friends, and colleagues of our fallen police officers, take comfort in the words of the wise philosopher, Seneca, when he said: “The day which we fear as our last, is but the birthday of eternity”.
May the souls of our fallen police officers rest in peace.
I thank you.