Durban — The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said they are distraught over the continual killing of police officers.
On Saturday, Port Edward SAPS Warrant Officer Roger Mavundla, his wife Khanyisile Mthuli, 39, and two children, Siyamthanda Mthuli, 10, and Thando Mavundla, 17, were murdered in Nzimakwe near Port Edward in KwaZulu-Natal.
They were in their family car when they were ambushed and shot. A third child was hospitalised.
Between July and September last year, 22 SAPS members were killed.
Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the randomness and apparent targeting of police officers, whether on or off duty, has inevitably increased members’ feelings of being unsafe and vulnerable.
Mamabolo said it is a clear sign that these officers are being singled out as targets for attacks for their firearms which are later used to perpetuate further criminal activities.
Mamabolo said there is an urgent need to examine the reasons why the attacks on and killing of police members have continued at such high levels and to investigate what could be done to protect members of the police service, not only in their work environment, but off-duty and in their homes. He also said he believes members of the police are neglected.
“No longer can members accept injury or death as merely a consequence or an acceptable risk in the normal execution of their daily work.”
Mamabolo said Popcru is convening a Policing Indaba which will interrogate factors behind police killings, measures to curb them and the need to improve good working relations between police and communities.
“No longer can we stand by and listen to long speeches during funerals and commemorations without any action being taken. Police officers, too, have rights to life,” said Mamabolo.
On Tuesday, Police Minister Bheki Cele and SAPS officials visited the Mavundla home. They were briefed on crime patterns in the policing area and interventions to deal with violent crimes and other contact crimes.
Ray Nkonyeni municipality ward councillor, Stephanie Breedt, said Mavundla was family-oriented and loved by the community. Breedt said the community wants justice and wants this murder to be solved soon.
“He worked hard and was respected. He was considered a gentleman and an upright citizen in Port Edward.”
Breedt said the death was senseless as he was doing his job and he and his family were innocent; and they ultimately paid the price.
“The community of Port Edward as well as the entire coast is reeling under this, as it is a senseless and barbarous act. We are all hoping for quick and swift justice in his regard,” Breedt said.
DA spokesperson, MPL Sharon Hoosen, said the police ministry should be ashamed for allowing criminals to show more strength than the support they provide the police.
The DA urged Cele to conduct more reviews on policemen and women killed on and off duty. Hoosen said the police were promised body cams three years ago and the talks are still ongoing. “This is not the time to fold his arms and wait for another tragedy. The time to act is now and with much more power than he keeps promising.
“If proper safety measures and necessary tools of trade are not put in place for our law enforcement, how can we expect SAPS to not only protect themselves, but serve and protect the communities they are mandated to?”