The South African Police Service (SAPS) has lost over 70 police officers in the past seven months to criminal attacks and ambushes.
This shocking figure comes as the SAPS buries two officers in a single day. Police Minister, General Bheki Cele together with the SAPS management led by Deputy National Commissioner Lt Gen Tebello Mosikili, laid to rest a young officer; in his first year of service, who was shot and killed while on duty in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Constable Sphesihle Cele a 26-year-old Public Order Policing (POP) member, was on 16 November 2023, shot and killed while he and his team members responded to a complaint of a man carrying a firearm inside a tavern in Empangeni. While responding to the scene, the young officer was shot at an armed man and died on the scene. The shooter was then shot and killed by the police.
Delivering the eulogy at the funeral service, Minister Cele expressed his revulsion on the killing of officers on and off duty.
“We are appalled that about 10 police officers have been killed every single month since April; all at the hands of criminals. These criminals are daring taking on the police and taking on the police man’s you’re on the state and will remove any obstacle in their way of their criminal greed, this is why I will forever call on police to fight fire with fire especially when their lives are threatened. No officer must ever die with a weapons in their hands.”
In Gauteng, Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale together with the National Commissioner of SAPS, General Fannie Masemola led proceedings of the funeral service of the late Constable Marven Maphoro. He was shot and killed last week Thursday, while responding to an ATM bombing at a filling station in Tembisa, Gauteng.
Deputy Minister Mathale urged police officers to use force proportional to the threat when under attack.
“Don’t hesitate to use the resources we have given you to defend your communities and yourselves. Don’t hesitate to use force which proportional to the threat, communities are depending on you for protection”.
With the clear rise in fatalities of the country’s police, the National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola has assured members that they will continue to be capacitated and empowered to respond to criminals and crime.
“The killing of members will not deter us but instead it bolsters our efforts to fight crime. As the management of the service, the capacitation and resourcing of our members, remains an apex priority for management. We will continue to ensure members are tactically trained and well-resourced to defend communities” – concluded Masemola.
The latest crime statistics show that 35 officers were killed on and off duty between July and September 2023. Since the start of the financial year in April, 78 officers were killed in South Africa.