POPCRU concerned about the alarming rise in the killings of officers

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) finds it infuriating the snail’s pace level at which recurring incidents of officer killings are being undermined, if not ignored, resulting in at least 6 deaths within the last 10 days, and bringing the total number of killings to 38 within the last 8 months.

Within a space of 10 days in the month of August, at least six officers have since perished at the hands of criminality, with at least one having survived an attack. 

On the 21st, Constable Madikitsi Mota Malinga, a female officer in the Free State province was strangled to death, and on the 23rd, Sergeant Pumlani Dastile, attached to the Eastern Cape Provincial Organised Crime Unit was also killed while on duty around Zwelitsha, where he was pursuing information on a robbery. 

Three days later, on the 26th, Sergeant Sharon Mogale and Mapule Petje of the Tembisa Police Station were attacked and disarmed by four suspects while inside a retail shop in Tembisa, resulting in the killing of Sergeant Mogale. This fateful incident was followed by another, on the 27th where a police officer from Kwa Zulu-Natal was killed while on the way to fetch a colleague. 

This past monday, two members of the Road Traffic Infringement (RTI) Mtubatuba’s service vehicle was riddled with over 15 rounds of bullets possibly from an AK47 or R5 rifle, leaving them fatally wounded, with their firearms being stolen.

All these incidents take place just after two officers were brutally burned to death in the North West Province, including an attack at a police station in the Northern Cape Province.

POPCRU President Zizamele Cebekhulu has bemoaned these irrational ongoing attacks on law enforcement officers, mainly concerned about the normality status such acts continue to receive from different quarters.

“While the threat against our police officers has been on an increase, with some losing their lives to criminal elements, we should not be deterred by these cowardly acts.

We need to remind ourselves that when out there enforcing law and order, the law is on our side to respond decisively when confronted by criminals. Our police officers should not die with their firearms. However, it has been far too long that the issues of police safety have been put by the wayside, and we cannot afford to stand idle.

We urgently need a formulation of protective and preventative strategies necessary to protect our police officers”.

There must be improved exertions to better understand why police officers continue to be killed in South Africa, as well as to formulate and recommend preventative, interventionist and protective strategies and measures to reduce the number of officers being killed yearly. Such high levels have had a negative impact on the morale of officers, while also traumatising those witnessing such incidents.

Moreover, the randomness and apparent targeting of police members even while off duty would inevitably increasing members’ feelings of unsafety and insecurity. It is clear fact that police officers are being singled out as targets for attack irrespective of being in or out of uniform. In other words, they are known and identified in their neighbourhoods as police personnel.

President Cebekhulu further reiterated the union’s calls for crimes committed against police to be met with harsher punishment.

It is becoming apparent that the murder of police officers is not taken seriously as politicians in parliament never discuss it. It is unimportant for them, and it quite saddening that police deaths do not even make headline news; this while mainly negativities are widely publicised.

Members of the SAPS are justifiably angered by this trend wherein their colleagues continue to be killed and are specific targets of attack. They consider themselves to be forgotten and neglected victims; that the authorities and, in particular, their own organisation does not care about their safety and security and fail to do anything concrete about the situation. In their view, the overall perception is that the SAPS appears to be reluctant to do anything. 

There is an urgent need to examine the reasons why the attacks on and killing of police members have continue at such high levels and also to investigate what could be done to protect the members of the police service, not only in their work environment but also off-duty and in their homes, from attack and murder. No longer can members accept injury or death as merely a consequence or an acceptable risk in the normal execution of their daily work. Police officers too have rights to life.

No longer can we stand by and listen to long speeches during funerals and commemorations without any action being taken.

POPCRU calls for appropriate security measures which should be put in place at all police stations in order to effectively control and secure the environment in which the police officers work, thus, limiting risk of injury or death to our police officers, as well as members of the public as this has a lot to do with the massive impact that the killing of our police offices has on our nation’s safety and the individual police officer’s immediate families.

Police are tasked daily to ensure all our citizens are safe in their homes, work places, places of worship and entertainment. It should be prioritised that in-turn, they and their immediate families are also well looked after. There is an urgent need to review and increase on service allowances for SAPS Act members, and an introduction of the danger allowance for the Public Service Act employees and SAPS Act members. With the allowance in the SAPS having been stagnant at R400 since 2001, we have submitted a position paper at the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC), therein demanding the allowance to be increased to R1500, which takes into consideration that according the SSSBC Agreement 4 of 2001, the initial allowance was supposed to have been increased yearly with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), including the cost of living adjustments and the frequency of the dangers these officers find themselves.

Matters of living conditions, family situations, career stagnation and lack of promotion of police officers should be comprehensively addressed as officers with a healthy morale will perform their duties well.

While the onus lies on the police to prevent, combat and investigate crime, communities have a role to play in flushing out crime, as the criminals committing these heinous acts come from the communities we serve, so the improvement of community and police relations is long overdue if we are to build better communities.  

The high levels of murder of police officials prior to our democratic breakthrough had traditionally been explained away within the context of high levels of political violence and as being part of the “struggle”.

This, however, can under no longer hold qualification under any circumstances.

We call for urgent dialogue with the Minister of Police and the National Police Commissioner addressing this debacle, and in the event it is delayed, the POPCRU leadership will be left with no option but to consider other measures.

Issued by POPCRU on 01/09/2021 For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349