The South African Police Service on Sunday held its Annual National Commemoration Day to honor and pay tribute to police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The Annual National Commemoration Day was officiated by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr David Mabuza.
Annually on the first Sunday of September, the Department dedicates this day in its calendar, to remember fallen heroes and heroines who paid the ultimate price to serve and protect all people living in South Africa.
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This year, forty police officers, including a reservist’s names were added and engraved to the National Memorial Wall at the Union Buildings, to signify the gratitude of the nation for their bravery and loyalty to serve and protect.
These were members who knew the risks and dangers associated to this vocation, yet they remained committed to the cause of serving and protecting all people within South African borders. The selfless patriotism that these fallen heroes and heroines can never be over emphasized.
In line with COVID-19 level 2 lockdown regulations, the families of only three (3) of the forty (40) deceased members were present at the Union Buildings. The rest of the families, joined the proceedings virtually from all nine (9) provinces hosted by the Provincial Commissioners and Members of the Provincial Executive Councils.
On behalf of government and the people of our country, Deputy President Mabuza reminded the nation that the safety of police men and women remained one of the top priorities of the Sixth Administration.
“In line with this commitment the Police Safety Strategy was reviewed last year, with the aim of implementing proactive preventative and reactive measured to ensure the safety of all South African Police Service employees. The SAPS is enhancing skills of its members through training in support of the Police Safety Strategy, with the aim of minimizing attacks on police members. We continue to build a police service that is effectively equipped, professionally managed and whose members are highly motivated to perform”, said Deputy President Mabuza.
The Deputy President also called on all people living in South Africa to actively participate in crime prevention initiatives and work together with all law enforcement officers to put a stop to criminality.
“Ours is to be partners with police in uprooting crime in our communities, and in ensuring that together with law enforcement agencies, we play our part in building a better and safer South Africa. Together, let us work in unison to eliminate crime and corruption in our country”, Deputy President Mabuza mentioned.
As part of the Commemoration day activities, the Deputy President together with the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole and the next of kin of the fallen heroes and heroines, laid wreaths in honour of the deceased members.
The Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele paid homage to the 40 fallen heroes and heroines and in the same breath, he also remembered those men and women in blue who had succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, to date, the Department has lost 195 members.
“This year’s commemoration takes place amid a global pandemic that has affected the South African Police Service, in more ways than one. COVID-19 has robbed us of capable men and women, many who succumbed to the virus while on the frontlines. 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”, said Minister Cele.
Through the South African Police Service Education Trust Fund (SAPSET) which was established in 2010, the Department of Police is able to provide for the educational needs of the deceased members’ children from Grade R to Tertiary Level. This includes the funding of fees, stationery and uniform. To date the fund has assisted more than a thousand children with 42 beneficiaries having been able to complete their tertiary education. The Fund is a non-profit organisation and is funded by gifts, donations and sponsorships from private persons, firms, companies as well as employee and employer contributions.
Furthermore, the Service’s Employee Health and Wellness Component (EHW) continues to render psychological and spiritual support to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased members.
In attendance was also the Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Cassel Mathale, the Chairperson of the South African Police Education Trust Fund (SAPSET) Father Simangaliso Mkhatshwa and management of the Department of Police.