Deputy President David Mabuza laying the wreath at the SAPS Memorial Site on behalf of Government. Picture: ​Kopano Tlape/GCIS​.

PRETORIA - Awareness of the need for active partnerships between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the public needs to be raised to fight crime effectively, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Sunday. 

"Partnerships between the police and the public should be widely supported and strengthened by all citizens and communities," he told a national commemoration day event at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for police officers who died in the line of duty. 

"We must all join the call by the Minister of Police [Bheki Cele] 'to work together in squeezing the space for criminals to zero',” Mabuza said. 

It was in active police-public partnerships that stability and order would be restored, and in active police-public partnerships that "the wanton murder of our police officers" would be prevented. 

"We emphasise this, because the maintenance of law and order is not only the function of the South African Police Service whose members are killed effecting arrests, responding to false complaints, at stop-and-search operations, in vehicle accidents, and by suspects resisting arrests," Mabuza said.   

Rather, the police service needed and required visible and tangible cooperation from community members who, in the first instance, knew where illegal substances were being sold; knew where stolen merchandise was being sold; and who knew where alleged rapists and murderers were being hidden. 

"Our dedicated officers are fully aware of the risks they take on a daily basis. But their patriotism and love for their country, its citizens and communities is far bigger than any fear they may harbour," he said. 

The police could not discharge their function alone. Instead they needed the daily cooperation and continuous assistance from the community to deal decisively with crime. After all, it was not the police that were responsible for the commission of rapes, of armed robberies, or for sexual violations of women and children.   

"It is the primary patriotic duty and responsibility of citizens and communities to work with government in dealing with the contextual causes of criminal behaviour. 

"To the families, friends, and colleagues of our fallen police officers, take comfort in the words of the wise philosopher, Seneca, when he said: 'The day which we fear as our last, is but the birthday of eternity'. May the souls of our fallen police officers rest in peace," Mabuza said. 

African News Agency/ANA