Police unions have called for more benefits to be made available for the families of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and Independent Policing Union of South Africa (Ipusa) were speaking after the commemoration of National Police Day which was observed on January 27.
The office of the national SAPS commissioner said that in the last four years, 140 police officers, the majority of whom were breadwinners in their families, died in the line of duty, while serving and protecting South Africa.
Police said in honour of the men and women in blue who sacrificed their lives, more than 100 golf players from various corporate companies across the country came together to pledge and raise funds for the South African Police Education Trust Fund (Sapset).
“R6.6million was raised and will go towards the educational needs of the children.”
Sapset funds children from grade RR to tertiary level and has to date assisted 1078 children, including 54 graduates and 146 National Senior Certificate recipients.
SAPS management led by Police Minister Bheki Cele said they were grateful to all sponsors and donors.
“These funds go a long way in making a meaningful difference in the lives of these children left behind. The least we can do is to ensure these children don’t carry an extra burden of stressing about school fees, books, school uniforms knowing their educational needs have been taken care of.
“We hope more corporates and the overall business fraternity will in future come on board to support this cause,” said Cele.
Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said any initiative aimed at improving the lives of deceased officers’ families, especially their dependants, was welcomed.
However, Mamabolo said what is key is for police to have death insurance that would add on to the current death grant which stands at R250000.
“Our experience has been that this amount isn’t sufficient to sustain dependants as most officers killed on or off duty are relatively young, with minor kids and most being breadwinners,” he said.
Mamabolo added that this insurance should be entered into immediately when a person joins the service, with both the employee and employer contributing to it.
Ipusa president Bethuel Nkuna said while the union appreciates the contribution made by the golfers, Ipusa believed the money raised was not enough to take care of the medical challenges widows and widowers face in raising these children.
Nkuna said most of these children do not have medical aid.
“When their parents die, Polmed terminates their membership too, unless the remaining parent continues to pay, only then will they continue to enjoy the benefit.”
He said most of the surviving parents are unemployed and unable to continue paying for Polmed, forcing the children to go to public health-care facilities.
“We all know the challenges facing public health care in this country.
“Our passionate plea to the authorities is that our orphans should enjoy maximum benefits without making them pay for Polmed,” he said.