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Address by Minister NPT Nhleko at Police Commemoration, 7 September 2014 Union Buildings.
07 September 2014

The Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Sotyu
The MECs for Safety, Security and Liaison present
The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Phiyega
The Deputy National Commissioners of the SAPS
(All the names must be inserted once the directive has been finalised)
Families, friends and colleagues of the deceased

Good morning
Although this is a sombre occasion where we have come together united in sadness, it is indeed an honour for me to be in attendance as we salute our fallen heroes and heroines in blue. Today, 68 names have been newly etched on the memorial wall, appropriately situated in the gardens of the Union Buildings; the seat of government.

As we perform our daily duties, this constantly reminds us that the men and women who have responded to the noble call to serve and protect, perform those duties under extremely dangerous circumstances. As a nation, we must stand together and say “no more”. These unscrupulous rogues who gun down police officers, often merely because they stand between them and their ill-gotten gains or nefarious needs, live and move among us in the communities. It is the duty of every law-abiding citizen, who knows or suspects that a police killer is living in their neighbourhood, to blow the whistle, albeit if they do so anonymously. There are many avenues available to discreetly report crime and criminals.

SAPS management has declared September 2014 as Police Safety Month with the specific intention of enhancing awareness among police employees and ensuring compliance with instructions.

The criminals who attack and kill our police personnel are members of our communities. Policemen and policewomen are also a part of our communities. They are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters. They are recruited from our communities and, in accordance with the new recruiting strategy of the SAPS, the community members have a direct influence on who is accepted into the police as a trainee. Once they have passed the rigorous selection tests and two years of strenuous training, they are returned to those same communities to keep the inhabitants safe. It, therefore, makes no sense for communities to hide, shield or simply ignore police killers in their midst. They must be rooted out.

The Minister has constantly emphasised the need to work cooperatively with the communities and the business sector. This is to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of crime and to harness skills and expertise through partnerships in order to, among other things, combat police murders. We must bring together CPFs, labour unions, non-profit organisations, other community-orientated leaders and businesses and propose innovative initiatives which will assist the police in planning future ventures as they meet during Police Safety Month.

As a caring organisation, it is our duty to ensure that the families of members killed are taken care of. Losing a loved one suddenly and under violent circumstances is a hugely traumatic experience. Although the men in women in blue sign up knowing well that they will continuously face danger, it often seems a remote possibility for their parents, spouses, siblings and especially their children. Children seldom think, when saying goodbye to mom or dad going off to work, that they may never see them again, that if something happens to that parent, they may not be able to finish school or get a tertiary qualification.

The establishment of the SAPS Education Trust is a shining example of the management of the South African Police Service’s commitment to their assets; the men and women in blue. The formation of this Trust was announced during this very occasion four years ago and it has become a reality. The objective of the Trust is to provide financial assistance to the children of members who die in the performance of their duties, by financing the costs of their educational needs. The Trust is funded by gifts, donations and sponsorships from private persons, firms and companies. Already, a group of children of our fallen members have benefited through the Trust and it has made a very significant difference in their lives. Any parent will know that, when asked what you would passionately wish for in your dying moments, it would be that your children could be cared for and given the opportunity of a decent education so that they can continue to care for themselves. The SAPS’s Education Trust is providing for that last wish.

There are also members who have died in motor vehicle accidents, often in hot pursuit of suspected criminals. Others died in different types of accidents while on duty. Reservists, who give up their own free time to do their patriotic duty without remuneration, are also on the roll of honour for their ultimate sacrifice. We honour and remember them all.

To the families of the 68 police employees whom we commemorate today, whose names have been etched on this wall forever more, we grieve with you. We also celebrate your loved ones’ lives with you and urge you to remember that they died while serving their country and their countrymen – true heroes and heroines.

To their colleagues and friends, who have inevitably been as traumatised by their deaths, some of you possibly having been present and witnessing the tragedy unfolding, we thank you for your presence at this glorious celebration of their lives, dedication and sacrifice. Please be comforted in knowing that the sacrifice was not in vain – it was in service to the communities and the country. We are forever grateful.

To all the men and women in blue, from managers to trainees, thank you for your service, for answering that call to protect the citizens, the vulnerable. We truly appreciate you. We recognise your many sacrifices, the differences you make every day, the countless arrests you effect and your heroic deeds that you may think go unnoticed, but do not.

Thank you and may their souls rest in peace.

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