The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday condemned the killing of police officers in the line of duty, saying it undermined the proper functioning of the criminal justice system.
“A proper functioning criminal justice system is one of the key requirements in the protection of human rights and the stability of the country’s democracy,” said commission spokesperson Vincent Moaga.
This year alone, reports indicate an increase in the number of slain officers, with the number standing at 32 dead since January.
Other statistics show that 109 police officers were killed between 2008 and 2009, while 110 were killed between 2009 and 2010.
On Sunday, two police officers — Warrant Officer Gurswin Matthee and Constable Cannon Cloete — were killed while attending to a crime call in Kraaifontein in the Western Cape.
Three days earlier, Captain Sydney Bongani Hlengwa and Constable Zamikhaya Patrick Hlangulela from Creighton in Durban were killed during a raid.
Moaga urged community members with any information that could assist with the arrest of those involved in these crimes to contact their nearest police stations.
The South African Police Union (Sapu) said the killings were “totally unacceptable and can never be tolerated”.
It called for an urgent national summit on the matter.
“It is unfortunate that a large number of officers are already dead while we have not even reached the half-year mark,” said Sapu general secretary Oscar Skommere.
“The latest incidents in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal make it beyond any doubt that this summit should be held within the shortest possible time.”
“The summit would allow stakeholders to come up with strategies and policies to curb these senseless killings now. Sapu would also like to propose the introduction of tough legislation to curb these killings. We would like suspects in all police attack-related cases to be denied bail and those ultimately found guilty to be given lengthy prison terms.”
Skommere said Sapu would seek an urgent meeting with the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, with the intent to organise the summit..
Police had to be trained and equipped to treat any crime scene, even domestic violence cases, as a war zone.
“This is too much. The government must treat this with the seriousness it deserves. An attack on police officers is an attack against the state.”
The Federation of South African Trade Unions (Fedusa) supported Sapu’s call for better protection for police officers.
“The security of police officers is a major concern that must be dealt with immediately. The justice system must allocate suitable sentences, police officers on duty must receive the support needed to efficiently do their jobs and perpetrators must be aware that they will be prosecuted and incarcerated for the illegal actions they commit, ” — Sapa