The surge in the number of police killings over the last decade has prompted the men and women in blue to seek help from society in a quest to root out the problem.
As part of the Workers’ Day celebrations, on Monday May 1, members of the South African Police Union (SAPU) marched through the streets of Gugulethu calling on authorities and the community to help them, as well as for improved working conditions.
Chanting slogans against police killings and waving placards denouncing these, the protesters said attacks on police were a threat against the state security and the country’s freedom.
According to police figures, at least 872 officers had been killed in the country over the last 10 years.Marching under the slogan #protecttheprotectors, the officers urged the government to urgently address the situation.
They handed a memorandum of demands to the Gugulethu police station before going to NY49 stadium for formal proceedings.
They called on politicians not to communicate contradicting messages to the public.
They also urged residents to partner with the police to fight crime. Police said they do not get counselling when they have been attacked and suicides among officers need to stop.
SAPU president Mpho Kwinibe said police wanted to express their anger over the killings. He said he hoped the march would not only help the police, but the entire community.
“There used to be a slogan that was used in the townships that says nothing about us without us. If we can apply that, we would defeat crime. We are marching because we want the community to be involved. We are in Gugulethu to create awareness.
“But we have been watching with dismay that even paramedics from the ambulances are being brutally killed. What kind of a society are we if we can allow people that are helping us to be murdered just like that?” Mr Kwinibe called on the communities to identify the criminals. “This march is not only for us as police, but the society as the whole. That we are in Gugulethu today, we might also help police here. Any society that does not take care of protectors is doomed to die. You can imagine if there were no police. It would have been chaos. So we urge everyone and anyone to protector the protectors,” he said.
Oscar Skommere, the union’s secretary, said many inhumane attacks on police were reported to them. “We are sick and tired of the brutal murder of our people. We as a community know of these killers. We live with them but we are quiet. We enjoy the foods they come with not knowing that another family is moaning on the other side.
“We must take a position to say enough is enough,” he said.The march was supported by the newly formed South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and the City of Cape Town.
Mayco member for Safety and Security and social services JP Smith said the death of a family member was a wound that could never be healed.
“Once a member is lost we can try to say this and that to the family, but it is hard on them.
“We normally tell them that their loved ones are in better place or next to God, but to them the wound is deep and hard to heal. I had to see many of them going through that traumatic experience. These killings (of police) are outrageous,” he said