COLLEAGUES of three police officers recently shot dead by criminals joined mourning relatives, religious leaders and friends to pay stirring tribute to the deceased at a memorial service on Tuesday.

Preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony for constables Amanda Ladlokova, Thanduxolo Ndiki and Masibonge Nqwaba at Philippi-East police station in Philippi, the service took place at the New Apostolic Church in Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain.

Ladlokova served at the Philippi-East police station and had seven years of service and two medals of distinction.

Ndiki had started working as a police officer at Athlone police station on March 27, while Nqwaba, who served at the Mitchell’s Plain police station, had been 42 days short of completing eight years ofservice.

A police band played a memorable rendition of Blues guitarist Eric Clapton’s song Tears in Heaven, followed by speeches from police officers, religious leaders and relatives.

An emotional Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula, the provincial police commissioner, said: “To have three of our members killed in one week is a painful and traumatic experience.”

He said there had been other attempts on the lives of police officers who were shot and wounded, including Constable Patrick Conradie from the Manenberg police precinct.

“All these (shootings) happened in one week and that’s why I say these are mass killings directed at the police and why national Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko says something must be done.

“The Hawks are investigating and there is a breakthrough in one of the cases in which a suspect has been arrested,” said Jula, who encouraged police officers not be demoralised by the killings.

Asking for the community's support, he assured them that the slain police officers did not die in vain and promised that police would go all out in fighting the criminals.

Candles, flowers and portraits of the slain officers were handed to their relatives at the end of the memorial service.

Police, Prisons and Civil Rights Union spokesperson Pat Raolane told mourners “enough is enough and something must be done” (about the killings of police officers and ordinary people).

He was "against bail for suspects in such killings and cop killers should be handed no less than 25 years in jail”.

Philip Bam, chairperson of the Grassy Park Community Police Forum, was “saddened” by the tendency to shoot, maim and kill police officials.

“These shootings are criminal in the extreme and to our minds an attack on the state. We reject any justification or rationale such as raising issues about police safety and self-protection rules. Nobody has the right to violently attack our police men and women,” said Bam.

The South African Police Union was also invited to speak, but no one stepped forward to do so on its behalf