Police Minister Bheki Cele at the eNsuze area in Ndwedwe where Ndwedwe acting station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Jabulani Ndawonde was gunned down on Monday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
Police Minister Bheki Cele at the eNsuze area in Ndwedwe where Ndwedwe acting station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Jabulani Ndawonde was gunned down on Monday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Find police killers and put them behind bars

By Editorial Time of article published Jun 10, 2021

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Police killings are on the rise in South Africa, but law enforcement agencies appear to be failing or slow in getting the killers behind bars.

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, according to the latest statistics released by Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, 11 police officers were killed between March last year and April this year. Ten of the officers were killed while off duty and one while on duty, but to date we don’t know anyone who had been convicted for their murders.

Although several calls had been made in the past for police to defend themselves mercilessly when faced with armed criminals, the killings seem to be persisting. One possible reason could be the lower number of convictions that have been recorded so far. Of the killings between last year and now in the province, none of the murderers have been convicted.

The only convictions recently recorded were for the killings that took place in 2019 when cash-in-transit robber 32-year-old Sandile Gumede was sentenced to nine life terms by Pietermaritzburg High Court for killing two officers from the Special Task Force during a shoot-out in KwaNongoma.

Another conviction also relating to a 2019 killing concluded on Monday when three hitmen were handed 22 years by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The slow pace of arrests and the long time taken to get convictions for these cases also concerns the families of the victims, who are questioning the 72-hour activation plan usually announced by police minister Bheki Cele or the national commissioner whenever an officer is killed.

Although this activation plan was announced after the recent killing of Ndwedwe acting station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Jabulani Ndawonde, the police have yet to find his killers, let alone convict them. Ndawonde’s family has expressed concern at the police’s failure to make arrests so far, and, like others, the family believe that a swift arrest or conviction could serve as a deterrent to police killings.

Until law enforcers roll up their sleeves and increase the conviction rate in police killings, the war on our men and women in blue is far from being won.

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