Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman has called on South Africans to speak out against police killings.
He was addressing widows, children and family members of police officers who had died while on and off duty, at a ceremony held on Tuesday December 11 at the SAPS Academy in Phillippi. Dr Sooliman said the nation should celebrate the character, courage and dedication of police officers.
“Many of our people do not understand the value of police. We only hear them talk about inefficient and corrupt police. We talk about saving lives but we do not put our lives on the line to save others – they put their lives on the line to protect the nation. I am not condoning corruption but we need to understand the trauma these people go through. Not every police officer is corrupt.
“There are real gems among the police force. They have husbands, wives and children who are never sure if that family member is coming home in the evening. We cannot denigrate an entire institution just because there are some corrupt members within it. Every profession has those that do wrong. It doesn’t make the profession dishonourable.
“Those who initiate corruption are equally despicable in the light of spiritual and social values taught by many scriptures,” he said.
Gift of the Givers, an NGO, gave food parcels, party packs, five wheelchairs and a hot meal to the families of 96 slain South African Police Service officers at the event.
Dr Sooliman said everybody must stand together to stop police killings and that it was the duty of every law-abiding citizen to fight crime. He said remembering these families during the festive season is a very small way of showing gratitude and appreciation for their loved ones’ dedicated service.
“He said one of the main priorities in the country was to prevent those with skills from leaving and to lure those who have already left to return.
Tourism and investment in the country also needed to be encouraged. Dr Sooliman said steps being taken to boost the morale of policemen and women which would make them feel valued and respected.This would achieve greater dedication from those whose lives are on the line from the moment they step out of their front door.
Buhle Katoyi from Site C, whose father, Constable Ncedo Katoyi, was killed in the line of duty in April, said the event was important for the families.
Constable Katoyi and a colleague were ambushed by six armed men after being called to deal with an alleged assault incident.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, National Commissioner General Khehla John Sitole and Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, General Khombinkosi Jula, attended the event before rushing out to open the new Samora Machel police station.