Cape Town - Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is encouraging police officers to work in larger groups following the killings of 67 officers this year, making it nearly six murders per month.
This week two officers were shot and killed in the Western Cape.
Lieutenant-Colonel Siyabulela Vukubi, of The Hawks, confirmed that 30-year-old suspect, Mpumzi Nompetsheni, made an appearance in court earlier this week and was expected back in the dock on October 12 for his formal bail application.
He is facing a murder charge for the death of a 29-year-old police woman on October 1 in Mfuleni.
Earlier this week, Police Minister Bheki Cele and the National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola led a delegation to the family of Warrant Officer Lindela Mraqisa who was shot and killed with four others in Gugulethu over the weekend.
During a press conference earlier this week, Cele said there were 100 murders in one week in the province.
Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen said police stations which had the most homicides included Gugulethu with a police-to-population ratio of 1:874, Delft, 1:784, Harare, 1:773, Kraaifontein, 1:740 and Mfuleni, 1:581.
Allen said the Western Cape was in need of additional officers with 105 935 on duty.
“The granted establishment for the Western Cape is 21 367, but as at the 2020/21 financial year, this stood at 19 505,” he said.
Earlier this week, Popcru president Dr Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza, said they were in agreement with the age limit of recruitment of officers which was changed from 30 to 35 years for the 2024/25 period which would increase the number of 187 000 nationally.
“There have been other attempts to place more boots on the ground in the past,” Cebekhulu-Makhaza said in an opinion piece.
“In 2021, visible policing was allocated 51% of the total policing budget to, in part, boost officer numbers.
“But, public sector budget cuts and union concerns over promotions and wage increases circumvented this attempt.
“With depleted resources already crippling the SAPS in its task agreement, creating more opportunities for trainees to enter the service will go a long way towards alleviating the demand and bridging the gap in the police-to-population ratio.
“Currently, the ratio stands at one police officer for every 378 South Africans.
“In some high-crime areas, this ratio becomes skewed, putting more strain on police officers to manage their daily tasks and take pre-emptive steps to fight crime.”
Cebekhulu-Makhaza added the depleting numbers left the police struggling to combat crime.
Richard Mamabolo, spokesperson for Popcru said the attack on officers was a huge concern: “We have on record that there have been 67 police officers killed since the beginning of the year, and indeed the numbers keep growing.
“The review and amendments of certain acts, including the Criminal Procedure Act are on our radar, and the declaring of police killings as treasonous.
“In the short term, we encourage officers to try to work in larger groups, be wary of their surroundings and act decisively when their lives are faced with danger. Our members cannot continue dying with their firearms.”
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said further scrutiny of the pattern suggested most police officials were attacked while executing their duties, a considerable number suffered attack while off-duty.
“As part of operational readiness, commanders ensure all police officials under their command are continuously trained to be vigilant, alert and able to defend themselves when they come under attack or in the presence of imminent danger,” she added.