Police and unions have expressed concern about the increase in police killings.
This is after Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale’s protector, Warrant Officer Lindela Mraqisa, who was off duty, and four other officers were killed in a mass shooting.
The five were shot in Gugulethu, Western Cape, on Saturday evening.
Police confirmed that Mraqisa was attached to the Western Cape’s Protection and Security Service (PSS) Division and had served as a close protector to Mathale since 2019.
Mathale sent his condolences to Mraqisa’s family, friends and colleagues.
SAPS national spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said police had mobilised maximum resources to trace and arrest those behind the attack on the officers, four men and a woman.
Mathale has described Mraqisa as dedicated, humble and hard-working.
“The number of police officers killed on and off duty remains a concern for the leadership of the SAPS. We need the whole of society and government to fight this scourge. Mraqisa was a soft-spoken, dedicated and focused police officer who was always punctual and professional in his conduct. We hope police will find and bring to book those responsible for his death. My condolences go to his family,” said Mathale.
The Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, and the national commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola, will lead a delegation of senior police officers to Cape Town today, where they will interact with the investigating team and visit the bereaved family.
They will also visit the family of another slain off-duty officer. The 29-year-old policewoman, who was attached to the Samora Machel police station, was killed in Mfuleni on Sunday morning.
“One suspect has been arrested in connection with her death,” said Police Ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba.
The SAPS has appealed to the public to come forward with information that could lead to the arrest of those behind the mass shooting.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it hoped justice would be served.
“There should be harsh sentences meted out against perpetrators (of police killings), and beyond just reacting to killings, the SAPS management needs to be proactive and work on measures to halt these killings,” said Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo.
The South African Policing Union (Sapu) called for attacks on the police to be deemed treason.
“An attack on the police is an attack on the state. That is why police killings should be declared as treason. This will show that government is really taking the issue of police killings seriously,” said Sapu spokesperson Lesiba Thobakgale.
Western Cape Community Safety and Police Oversight MEC Reagen Allen said in an interview with one of the broadcasters said it had been a devastating week after three mass shootings in the province.
He said previous mass killings had been linked to gangs.
“We are working alongside SAPS wanting to ensure that we can dismantle organised crime and gang activities in communities. It is devastating considering that this week we have three mass shootings.”
He said from January to March there was a 14.1% reduction in murders in the province and from April to June a 5.5% decrease compared to the same period the previous year.
“Those are reductions that we welcome considering that there's integration, that there's a collaboration between the City of Cape Town, SAPS and our Department of Community Safety.
“We have seen when there is an investigation or gang members taken out of a particular community, there is rivals that want to take certain territory to enlarge their camps; that has led to flare-ups in these communities,” he said.
Allen said gang-related extortion activities were another sad reality, with rival gangs going after each other.
“We have demanded an additional complement of an anti-gang unit to be allocated to our province. We currently have 175 of our anti-gang unit members. The Western Cape government deems that to be too little,” said Allen.