POPCRU distraught over continued police killings

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is infuriated by the snail’s pace level at which recurring incidents of police killings continue unabated.

Two more officers of the South African Police Service (SAPS) were ambushed and killed last night in Lilianton in the Gauteng Province while waiting for a mortuary van at a death scene. It is alleged that three suspects approached them and demanded their firearms, leading to a quarrel that ended in the officers being fatally shot. The suspects then made off with the officers’ firearms and bulletproof vests.

To date, there have been over 35 reported cases of police killings who were on duty, with many more either being killed off duty, while others have sustained career-threatening injuries and are left disabled. This trend continues unabated, with the SAPS management having failed to come up with a plan to curb such incidents.

Moreover, this randomness and apparent targeting of police officers, on or off duty, has inevitably increased members’ feelings of unsafety and insecurity. It is a clear sign that these officers are being singled out as targets for attacks for their firearms which are later utilised to perpetuate further criminal activities.

Many 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.

No longer can we stand by and listen to long speeches during funerals and commemorations without any action being taken. Police officers too have rights to life.

Our men and women in blue are daily tasked 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 an officer with a healthy morale will perform his/her 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. 

POPCRU calls for a Policing Indaba which will, among its tasks further interrogate factors behind police killings, measures to curb them and the need to improve good working relations between police and communities.

Issued by POPCRU 

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349