The 2445 graduates were instructed by Police Minister Bheki Cele Bheki Cele not to die at the hands of criminals with their service firearms in their hands.
Cele told the graduates that if someone had to die between a police officer and a criminal, it had better be the criminal.
He made these remarks at the ceremony, which was attended by family members and friends of those who were graduating.
Alongside national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole, Cele watched as the graduates impressed the spectators with breathtaking marching and moves. The crowd went into a frenzy and screamed when the new officers marched.
Something unusual on such occasions was the use of house and maskandi music to accompany the demonstrations.
Cele said he was pleased that there was not a single mkhaba (big belly) on sight. He said he hoped the officers could keep their bodies in good shape for a minimum of seven years.
“We are tired of seeing young police officers dying at the hands of criminals. I know that each of these officers successfully learnt how to use firearms. Earlier this year, I gave the instruction that they must receive intermediate or advanced street survival and tactical response training. This means that each one of these members is trained to protect themselves, similar to levels of the high tactical units.
“So today, officers, we say no one of you should die with those guns in your hands. I have heard people saying I once instructed police officers to shoot to kill. No, I did not say that. Today, I am repeating that which I have always said: ‘No single officer should die at the hands of a criminal with a gun in his or her hands’. We say no.”
Cele told the officers that their firearms were not for decoration. “Police officers must use those guns wisely, efficiently and effectively. You must protect your lives and the lives of your fellow officers using those firearms within the ambit of the law.”
Cele said he was very proud of the officers because just over a year ago, many them formed part of the unemployed youth in the country.
However, he said they had now taken on the big responsibility to serve, protect and maintain peace and order in South Africa.
Proud as he was, he told the officers that the journey ahead was steep because ruthless criminals were waiting. “They wait to corrupt you. They wait to fight with you. They wait to lie and accuse you. They wait to give you wrong instructions and ideas, trying to protect their criminal syndicates and their underworld empires.”
As they were deployed to various police stations, the cadets were urged to serve with dedication and pride.
The next group of recruits will commence their training between February or March.