COSATU statement on the spike in police killings in the country

22 June 2021

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply worried by a spike in incidents of police killings all across the nation. A number of police officers have been killed on and off duty all across the country recently. Over the past weekend, we have seen police officers killed in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, Umlazi, KZN and in Fetakgomo Municipality in Limpopo.

We send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all deceased police officers.

This increase in police killings reflects the deteriorating safety levels in the entire country, in general. This means that more needs to be done to improve the safety and security in the country with more emphasis directed at curbing violent crimes.

It is shocking to note that over 30 police officers have lost their lives since the beginning of the year. What is even more troubling is that some of these police officers were killed for their firearms. This is a dangerous development that needs to be nipped in the bud before it develops into a security crisis that compromises the safety and security of the entire nation.

The entire judiciary system needs to aggressively deal with this scourge of police killings, and legislators need to adopt mandatory minimum sentences for these types of crimes that undermine our state institutions through the use of violence.

This fight, though, cannot just be left to only law enforcement agencies, but it needs the participation of communities who know these criminals. This is a treasonous conduct that needs to be exposed, and we urge everyone to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to identify these perpetrators and get them behind bars.

The South African police should also exercise their right to defend themselves as clearly articulated under Section 49 of the South African Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 that makes it clear that when there is a ‘threat of serious violence’ and if ‘there are no other reasonable means’, the police are within their rights to shoot first.

This is not to encourage extra judicial killings by the police officers; everything should be done within the ambit of the law. There is also an urgent need for the SAPS to adjust and improve their crime fighting strategies including predictive policing and intelligence led policing. This will also need for the police service to be more transparent and involve the members of the community more.

There is not enough work that has been done to achieve the goals and targets that were set out in the 1996 National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) which attempted to ensure improved participation of the public working together with state institutions in crime deterrence.

Improving partnerships between the police and the communities they serve should be a priority rather than depending solely on the criminal justice methods to apprehend and convict lawbreakers.

We will continue to work with our affiliated union Popcru to demand better protection and better services for police officers who do the invaluable job of keeping law and order in the country.

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794