South Africans and police critics should give the country’s officers “a break for one day”, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.
“Let’s give them a break for a change and thank them for whatever they are doing. They work under very challenging circumstances, they need to be thanked,” he told a Police Day celebration at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein.
Mthethwa said it was an opportunity to tell police officers “we care, we love them and as management of the police we care for them”.
The event was meant to tell officers they were not just “objects”, but human beings, with families.
He said the event’s critics, who had raised concerns about it being a waste of time and money, had made police management more determined to make it bigger and more vibrant. He indicated that future events would include family members. Criticism aired up to now was “nonsense”. The national event would cost much less than amounts that were circulated.
“We will tell the people what it cost.”
Police officers worked in challenging conditions to ensure the rest of the country’s citizens enjoyed life, he said.
“You are the shield of the nation and therefore have a responsibility. We are proud, love you and care for you.”
He said nobody should say the Police Day celebration was meaningless.
“It is meaningful to us.”
While addressing the crowd earlier, he said police members should reflect on their role — to safeguard the country’s citizens.
Mthethwa urged officers to act professionally at station level because this was where the public formed “a lasting impression” of the service.
Before Mthethwa’s speech, a message from President Jacob Zuma was played, in which he thanked the police for their work. Zuma urged communities to work with the police as this would lead to a more effective way of dealing with crime. He told the officers that, politically, more effort would be made to look at getting more resources for the police service. — Sapa