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Tue Jul 29 00:35:44 SAST 2014

New campaign to stop police murders

CHANDRÉ PRINCE | 02 June, 2011 23:390 Comments
REMEMBERED: The annual police commemoration ceremony for officers killed in the line of duty. Thirty-seven police officers have been murdered in the first five months of this year Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

A massive campaign involving business, churches and trade unions is to be launched in a bid to stop the spate of police murders.

And Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has announced that he will introduce special training to help officers stay alive on the job.

These developments follow the slaying of 37 police officers in the first five months of this year.

Other emergency measures to be taken include:

  • Convening of a brainstorming session of research organisations, academics, the media and the police to decide how to deal with the upsurge in police murders;
  • Making specialised training, including in firearms and crowd control, a focus area;
  • Recruiting officers who have been endorsed by communities and community policing forums; and
  • Ensuring that only specially trained policemen deal with dangerous crimes, such as cash-in-transit robberies.

Mthethwa said police killings were triggered by "greed, heartlessness and hate", and because criminals were "feeling the heat".

"We believe the tide against crime is turning. [The] government is now firmly taking control and having an upper hand."

Mthethwa promised a "tough and smart" fight.

His tough stance comes amid widespread condemnation of police killings by, among others, national police commissioner Bheki Cele, the cabinet, police unions and the SA Human Rights Commission.

Nine policemen were killed in May alone.

On Monday, Warrant Officer Zamukulungisa Camagu, 48, was shot dead by robbers in Butterworth, Eastern Cape.

Two weeks ago, Warrant Officer Gershwin Matthee, 39, and Constable Cannon Cloete, 23, were both shot in the head in Cape Town.

Two days earlier, Captain Sidney Bongani Hlengwa, 46, and Constable Zamikhaya Patrick Hlangulela, 32, were killed during a raid on a shebeen in Creighton, KwaZulu-Natal.

Several other policemen were seriously wounded.

On Thursday last week, a public order policing officer was shot and injured during an armed robbery at a shop in Mayfair, Johannesburg.

Another was shot in the shoulder during a stop-and-search operation in Fordsburg on Tuesday.

About 2500 police officers have been murdered since 1998. The highest number of these killings - 265 - was in 1994 .

The SA Police Union and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union have called for an urgent meeting to devise strategies and policies to end the murders.

They are also pushing for tougher legislation.

The Police Union's general secretary, Oscar Skommere, said: "Police officers should be protected at all times because they protect the country and the constitution."

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesman Norman Mampane said the police could not work in communities in which their colleagues were being killed.

The Institute of Security Studies' Gareth Newham said that, though police killings could be attributed to many factors, the police needed to restore the public's faith in them.

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