DA to demand answer on police deaths

The Democratic Alliance is to invoke the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in an attempt to force Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula to reveal how many police officers have been killed this year.

Nqakula left for Burundi on Tuesday to continue facilitating the peace deal there "at a time when armed criminals are waging a war of their own against police and innocent civilians at home", DA spokesperson Roy Jankielsohn said.

"He also leaves behind a public that remain in the dark about crime and have no idea what his plans to fight crime are, and indeed, whether he even has any."

The Jeppestown massacre last week and the killing of another police officer in Lenasia on Monday had shaken the public's confidence.

"While the dedication of individual police officers is not in question, it is clear that the police are under-resourced and that some police officers are under-trained to cope with certain situations," Jankielsohn said.

The police had so far refused to divulge the number of police deaths this year, citing the moratorium on crime statistics.

"This is not good enough. The public have a right to know the state of the police force and, for that matter, where, when and how many violent crimes are taking place in South Africa."

It was known that 19 police officers had been killed in Gauteng so far this year compared to 23 for the whole of 2005.

In 2005, 91 police officials were killed - 33 while on duty and 58 off duty, and in 2004, 107 police officials were murdered - 40 while on duty and 67 off duty.

It was in the public interest to know how many police officers had been killed so far this year for the whole country and the DA was therefore invoking the PAIA to get these figures.

"It is time to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding crime and the state's response to it. The DA will do everything in its power to force the minister to do so," Jankielsohn said. - Sapa

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