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‘Our police officers are backyard dwellers’: Popcru says better remuneration can curb police killings

A man in suit walking in front of police officers

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele at a previous SAPS National Commemoration Day in honour of slain police officers at the Union Buildings. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 30, 2023


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) believes better remuneration and improved living conditions for police officers could arrest the scourge of murder targeted at the law enforcement agents across South Africa.

IOL reported on Tuesday that at least 31 police officers were killed in the last three months, and that police management is deeply concerned about the trend.

South African Police Service (SAPS) national spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said: “A total of 31 police officers have died on and off duty in the past three months. The SAPS management is concerned by the ongoing killings and attacks on police officers.”

She said the police were urged not to hesitate to act, and that they must be extra vigilant.

The National Commemoration Day at the Police Memorial site at the Union Buildings last year. File Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Adding its voice to the discourse on police killings, Popcru says at least 52 police officers have been killed since the beginning of this year, and that has created anxiety among its members, the police officers.

Popcru spokesperson, Richard Mamabolo said police officers are killed for different reasons, which include robbery of their service firearms, or officers are killed while off-duty to silence them regarding ongoing or previous investigations.

He said better remuneration would ensure that the police officers are safe when they are off-duty.

“Firstly, police are killed for their firearms, but in most cases those who are off-duty would normally be killed for the kind of cases they were investigating or previous arrests that they would have made. What definitely needs to happen is ensuring that police officers live under better conditions,” Mamabolo told broadcaster eNCA on Wednesday morning.

“As things stand, police officers are backyard dwellers, most of them. They are known by criminals and of course they stay around the very same areas where they make arrests. That makes them vulnerable. That is why we highlighted that we need to ensure that their living standards are improved so that they find themselves in a better position,” he said.

Mamabolo said in most cases, police officers use public transport when they are not on duty and that adds to their vulnerability.

Last week, Popcru hosted its Policing Indaba 2023 in Boksburg under the theme: “Building ideal policing and corrections for the 21st century”.

“It happened just a week before the annual commemoration of police killings which will be sitting this Sunday at the Union Buildings. We have clearly seen that police have become a target,” said Mamabolo.

The Policing Indaba 2023 saw participation from over 200 individuals representing diverse fields and the event was a platform for researchers and professionals to showcase the latest breakthroughs, examine emerging trends and propose pragmatic solutions to redefine the horizons of policing and law enforcement.

Earlier this week, Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele called on police officers across South Africa to “be the first to act when they have to use force proportional to the threat”.

Cele was addressing hundreds of mourners and police officers at the funeral of Sergeant Kediemetse Masilo in Schweizer Reneke, North West.

Masilo was killed last week while tracing a stolen vehicle in Kimberley. She allegedly died at the hands of 38-year-old Daniel Alberts who, according to SAPS records, is a repeat offender.

Alberts has already appeared before the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on two counts of murder, three of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one of motor vehicle theft and one of theft.

Speakers at Masilo’s funeral decried the scourge of police killings on and off duty.