Cops’ deaths not in vain, mourners told
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Johannesburg - With just a combined 14 years in the SAPS, Constable Mthoko-ziseni Myeza and Constable Maishe Mafokoane were robbed of their lives too soon.
The pair died on Sunday after being shot during a chase with the occupants of a suspicious-looking vehicle on the N3 freeway.
Their partner, Constable Steven Mafanelo, survived.
On Tuesday, mourners from across Joburg and top police officials arrived at the Lombardy East Methodist Church to give the two officers a proper send-off and honour their achievements.
Amid the grief was a promise to find the men responsible for their deaths.
Colonel Manana Tshabalala, the former station commissioner at Sandringham, where the officers were stationed, said the pair were part of a special task team that helped reduce crime in the area.
On the verge of tears, she spoke of how both officers never rested until the suspects were found.
Mafanelo’s aunt Ellen Baloyi could barely contain her anger as she spoke to a rapt audience.
She said the government had to do more to protect its police officers.
“Fight for your rights; these criminals have been given more rights than you have,” she shouted, to support from the crowd.
Lionel Keenan, a long-time Sandringham resident and community police forum founder, said it was up to society at large to assist the police.
He asked that the families of the dead men take solace that the deaths of the two officers would help to inspire communities to join in the fight against crime.
Gauteng provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba characterised the incident in which the officers were killed as “war”, and promised that the SAPS would look after its members better than ever before.
“(The family’s) loss is greater than ours, but they did not die in vain, they died fighting for their country… for the people in this country,” he said.
“Members of the SAPS, the work you do cannot be compared to any other work. There are not enough words to thank the SAPS,” Mothiba added.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union representative Norman Mampane said officers should not be discouraged, even when faced with danger and the deaths of their colleagues.
“This sick society we are serving, at some point they will understand, they will respect us. It’s time to intensify the struggle against this monster - crime,” he said.
It was revealed during the service that the Sandringham community was raising money to help support the two families who had lost their breadwinners.
Meanwhile, as the two slain police officers received a fitting farewell during a memorial service yesterday, some speakers appeared to have a bone to pick with aspects of the criminal justice system.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba said criminals were escaping incarceration because of lawyers. “We need drastic changes to the law,” he said, adding that loopholes in legislation were responsible for numerous cases being thrown out of court.
He said criminals could not be treated the same as law-abiding citizens and that communities and families were actively hiding them from the police.
Mothiba boasted that hip hop star Khuli Chana had dropped the case against the officers who mistook the artist for a criminal and shot at him nine times.
He said that after threatening to lay criminal charges against him for allegedly trying to knock over officers who tried to pull him over, Chana decided to withdraw. “Khuli Chana was trying to be clever… but we showed him,” said Mothiba.
He said police leaders needed to stand by underlings who were accused of crimes.
Mothiba said officers should not be imprisoned - their matters should result in civil claims, which must be paid out.
He said numerous officers had been dismissed unnecessarily, and he had approached national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega to reinstate them.