Police officers act as pallbearers at late businessman Richard Maponya's funeral service. Picture: Elmond Jiyane GCIS
Police unions have expressed their embarrassment and anger following a police drill gone wrong, after the officers misstepped, wobbled and completely ruined the move at the funeral of business tycoon Dr Richard Maponya.

However, the national police ministry labelled the demeaning performance as an “unfortunate mistake”.

The awful spectacle happened on Tuesday during the live TV broadcast of Maponya’s funeral at West Park Cemetery, Joburg. On a video that has made the rounds on social media, four police officers are seen failing to execute a simple drill correctly. At one stage they can be seen turning in different directions after a command.

South African Policing Union national spokesperson Oscar Skommere said police officers were overworked and not getting enough rest, leading to poor performance.

“We do not by any means condone the poor performance of the police at the funeral. It showed, among other issues police officers being overworked and not getting enough in-service training.”

Skommere said the police were a laughing stock with no respect from the public, let alone criminals.

He called for National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole to be held accountable. “As the top cop, the buck stops with him. For the SAPS to express regret is not enough. Someone at the top must be held accountable,” said Skommere.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union said police officers needed to leave their “air conditioned offices” and go for refresher courses. Spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said: “They are high-rating officials but failed to do a basic drilling order for such a high-profile event this is very embarrassing. We really cannot blame it on fatigue because they are doing nothing but just sitting at their offices and fighting for positions.”

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo insisted the officers had had enough rehearsals and the embarrassing performance was not a result of not having enough time to rest. 

“The drill was just an unfortunate mistake and highly regrettable,” said Naidoo.