“They are heroes and heroines.” This is how fallen police officers were referred to during the South African Police Commemoration day at the Union Buildings.
Acting President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a key note speaker at the event, said 72 police officers had passed away between 30 April 2015 and end of March 2016.
“A total of 40 police officers died in the line of duty, in the line of fire,” Ramaphosa said.
He was addressing family members of the fallen police officers, senior and junior police officials and other honoured guests.
Family members, including children, cried and some even fainted as the names of the fallen police officers were read out and as they walked up to the wall of remembrance to lay flowers.
“As the names of your loved ones are edge today on the monument please, know your pain and secrefice remain edge in the heart of all of us.
“Their murder could never be justified,” Ramaphosa said.
Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane, said lives of police officers matter. “Thank you (the family) for supporting your sons, daughters, mothers and fathers while they served in the police service. The organisation is weaker without them,” Phahlane said.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said the mandate of the police comes with a heavy price which is evidenced in the daily killing of the very people who are supposed to protect the nation.
“But it does not have to be like that.
“The police need protection from the communities they serve,” Nhleko said.
He stated that the figure of the fallen police officers has shown a decrease from the previous period.
“This shows that strategies to ensure the safety of the police are beginning to bear fruits. We need to use all means including partnering with the private sector, other government departments, civic bodies, unions and all those who claim loyalty to our country,” Nhleko said.
Mario Reynecke (15) from Brakpan, called his father, Morné Reynecke (44) a “hero”. Reynecke was fatally shot whilst trying to help a victim who was being robbed.
“I still love my dad,” Mario and his sister Chanté (13) said as their mother, Christine, cried.