The men and women in blue who risk their lives to protect and serve communities were honoured at a special ceremony on Thursday August 24.
Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkhongi, provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula and senior police officers gathered at Zolani centre in Nyanga to award brigadiers and cluster commanders with medals for their selfless efforts in the fight against crime and ensuring that the rule of law was being upheld.
A total of 42 medals were awarded, which included awards for 10 years of service-or more-in the force, while others were honoured for their contribution during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Addressing the recipients, Mr Mkhongi pointed out that the police’s job was often a thankless one, but despite that, the officers continued to ensure that police service was being rendered.
He said the working environment of the police needed to be improved and that it was not their view that the number of police officers on the ground should be reduced.
Mr Mkhongi said, through the ceremony, police management wanted to show their officers that they were appreciated.
However, he said, police officers were under attack not only from criminals, but from the community as well.
“Behind the blue uniform there is a human being. Police officers are breadwinners, brothers, sisters and parents in their homes and should be treated with the same respect and dignity that one wants to be treated with.
“If a police officer makes a mistake, it will be all over the media but no one recognises them when they have done something good. The time is now for the communities to work hand in hand with the officers,” he said.
Lieutenant General Jula said police officers were required to be dedicated and disciplined in rendering their services to the community.
They were also required to uphold the police code of conduct at all times.
The medals they received, he added, they should wear with pride, dignity and respect because they deserved them.
Station commander of Gugulethu police station, Luyanda Damoyi, said that in his 28 years in the police service, this had been one of his most memorable days.
He said these medals served as encouragement and recognition of their efforts.
Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Community Police Forum and surrounding areas, Fransina Lukas, gave an emotional and powerful speech in which she expressed her gratitude to the police officers who put their lives on the line to maintain order and peace. She appealed to the community to protect police officers and be their voice.