Police officers, who lost their lives in the line of duty, were honoured on Sunday.
“On this solemn day of remembrance, we gather to honour and pay tribute to our police officers, who lost their lives in the line of duty. We honour them for their dedicated service to the nation to ensure that each one of us enjoys fundamental freedoms enshrined in our Constitution,” said Deputy President David Mabuza.
The Deputy President officiated at the annual South African Police Service Commemoration Day held at the South African Police Service (SAPS) Memorial Site at the Union Buildings.
Mabuza said it remains a serious concern that police officers are killed by suspects resisting arrest while responding to complaints, effecting arrests, and in-vehicle accidents, among others.
“It is highly disturbing that police officers lose their lives in stop-and-search operations and are sometimes murdered for their firearms,” Mabuza said in his virtual address.
He said police officers have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting the nation.
“Their patriotism is not in question. These dedicated professionals were willing to place themselves in the line of duty. [This is] to ensure that every citizen of our country and all those within our borders are safe from harm.
“Their dedication made us feel secure in the knowledge that our government was taking care of the well-being and safety of all people, black and white,” said the Deputy President.
The annual commemoration is held to remember fallen heroes and heroines, whose deeds serve as an example of what it means to be selfless and patriotic in the service of humanity.
“These departed members of our police service have paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the safety, security and freedom that their protection provides.
“They came from different backgrounds. They were raised under different environments and by different communities. Yet, what was common for all of them was a sacrifice and selfless service to ensure that justice is served for all victims of crime, irrespective of societal standing.
“Theirs was to ensure that our communities are kept safe from [crime]. As we remember and honour these 39 members of the SAPS and one police reservist, we do so with mixed emotions. Their sacrifice was not in vain,” Mabuza said.
Their names have been engraved on the memorial site wall.
Mabuza said the government will continue to extend its unwavering support to the South African Police Service, its members and their families.
“We are informed of the good performance of the SAPS’ Education Trust, which was established in 2010 to look after the educational needs of the children of deceased South African Police Service employees,” said the Deputy President.
Police Minister Bheki Cele reflected on the lives of the fallen officers.
“They got up, got ready for work and kissed their families goodbye. But their work, and that of all the officers of the SAPS, is like no other. The moment they put on that uniform, they answered a call to serve and to protect,” Cele said.
This year’s commemoration took place amid the global Coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the South African Police Service in many ways.
“COVID-19 has robbed us of capable men and women, many who succumbed to the virus while on the frontlines. This virus has robbed us as the Police Service of our tradition to bid farewell to the men and women of the law with a befitting official SAPS send-off,” Cele said.
Cele said the majority of officers in the police service do an incredibly hard and dangerous job.
“While we mourn the passing of these public servants, we must equally celebrate their lives. As we celebrate their stance to serve, we must find inspiration in the fact that they were head and shoulders above their peers with their fearlessness and courage. The deaths of these 40 members should not be in vain,” Cele said. – SAnews.gov.za