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Speech by Hon. JJ Maake on the debate on the killing of police officers in eNgcobo police station

28 February 2018

Madam Speaker, on the 10th September 2015, we had a debate in this very house on Police killings. It is now 2018 and we are having the same debate. The question then is, are things getting better or are they becoming worse. If they were getting better I think we wouldn't be having the same debate.

Madam Speaker, this debate is one of those that we should never be having in this house, today or at any time in the future. The killing of, the protectors, of our own police officers, five of them, is actually a national disaster and must be treated as such.

The ANC government has committed itself to fighting crime in whatever form it manifests itself in our society, including the killing of our police officers. Fighting crime is one of the main priorities of the ANC as it is clearly stated in almost all of its conference resolutions, the safety and security of our communities has always been top in the priorities of the ANC.

Madam Speaker, it is pity that it is not for the first time that we stand on this podium and talk about the same issue. Lets we forget our police officers who were killed in Jeppestown by criminals, police officers that are shot almost every month either in uniform or off-duty. It is now a norm or some kind of culture for criminals to use police stations as places where they can go and collect or restock weapons, and do that by murdering our police officers.

We are also sadden by the passing away of three other police officers who died in a car accident in the same area of Ngcobo. The police officers from the Eastern Cape on their way to the North West.

Madam Speaker, the core functions of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in terms of Section 205 (3) of the Constitution are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law.

But instead, Madam Speaker, the people of eNgcobo and the whole of South Africa is reeling from the shock of the murder of their protectors.

In our budget review reports to Parliament, the Portfolio Committee on Police had clear recommendations in this regard. And those recommendations were adopted by this house, the problem is whether these recommendations were ever implemented.

1. The committee recommended that ground coverage of crime intelligence should be increased in relation to capacitating this environment, especially at cluster level

2. The committee also recommended that the Department should consider informants as a force multiplie and endeavour to attract and retain strategic informants.

3. We also recommended that the SAPS adhere to competency requirements for police officers carrying firearms including background checks, training requirements, accreditation and removal of firearms due to negligence or abuse, and disciplinary action.

4. That SAPS capacitate, train and support police officers through on-going accredited training in firearms use, as well as alternative tactics and strategies to use lethal force.

5. That all Designated Firearms officers must be capacitated at all stations to be able to effectively manage their tasks.

As Parliament and the Portfolio Committee on Police we are guided by our interest to promote effectiveness, efficiency and professional policing in South Africa.

We also call on our communities to strengthen structures such as street committees, community-policing forms and organs of civil society that will collaborate with the SAPS in their effort to stamp out these heinous acts against police officers. We have always called for stiffer sentences to be imposed on the scums that kill police officers.

We therefore urged our new Minister to prioritise the safety of our police officers and police stations. All police stations need to resort to new technology, the need to have CCVT cameras, all police officers must have body cameras, police stations need to have enough vehicles to do their job.

Our country's history under colonialism and Apartheid was a violent history that created a fertile ground for violent crime and a disregard for human life by some good-for-nothing criminal elements in our society. Crime in South Africa is violent and the police must defend themselves with everything in their power if attacked, even lethal force, as long as it is within the confines of the law. When our people and the police no more are or feel safe, the Constitution allows for brute force to be used in defence of our people and their protectors, and again as long as it is within the confines of the law.

The ANC however welcomes the speedy reaction demonstrated by our men and women in blue in apprehending some of the alleged perpetrators of this senseless killing of police officers and the recovery of the stolen firearms. The law must take its course and harsh sentences must be meted out to those convicted.

We must also thank the community in eNgcobo for their prompt response in providing leads for the police on the whereabouts of the perpetrators. Where the community and the police work together it becomes easier to stamp out criminal activities within our communities. Crime prevention can no longer be regarded as a police issue only. A coordinated effort by the Justice, crime prevention and security cluster departments, can go a long way to halt these killings.

Once more, Madam Speaker, if we have a situation in this country where tsotsis, ruffians will raid a police station in order to capture weapons, where tsotsis will hold police up and take their weapons in daylight, it is clear that something is terribly wrong, it means our strategies and tactics in dealing with this type of criminality need to be relooked at. Our men and women in blue protect us, they create for us a sense of security and comfort by putting the lives on the line for us. They protect our assets whilst they have none themselves. They secure our safety and security, is it not ironic that they do this for us whilst they themselves are not safe, whilst they have no comfort and they do this without complaining.

Does it mean that we just use them as some instruments objects for our own good. Are we saying that theirs is to do and die, theirs is not to ask the reason why?

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