Editorials 5.9.2017 05:35 am

Police need tools to do their job

New Constables line up while Major General Tommi Mthombeni inspects their uniforms, 20 January 2017, at the Forest Hill Mall, Olievenhoutbosch. Picture: Jacques Nelles

New Constables line up while Major General Tommi Mthombeni inspects their uniforms, 20 January 2017, at the Forest Hill Mall, Olievenhoutbosch. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Detective work, in many cases, is so poor that suspects go free.

There are many things within the police that need fixing. Far too many police officers regard wearing the uniform as a mere job, not a service to society.

And there are many officers who are criminals themselves, abusing their positions to enrich themselves. Bribery is a far too frequent occurrence. Training is woeful, at best.

There have been reports that many police officers are barely literate and, because of that, many investigation dockets are a shambles.

Detective work, in many cases, is so poor that suspects go free. And there are hundreds of police officers on the streets carrying weapons without having firearms proficiency certificates.

Sometimes, the long arm of the law doesn’t stretch very far, because some stations don’t have the basic resources to attend to crimes.

Yet all of those negatives must not blind us to the fact that there are still many within the police who are there to serve the people of this country and to ensure they stay safe – and get justice.

These are the people who can find themselves targets simply because they are police officers. They are the people who are prepared to put their lives on the line for the rest of us.

Between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, 40 police officers were killed in the line of duty. Many others were wounded or injured. Those who died left behind grieving families – some of whom would have lost their breadwinner.

It is fitting that Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to the fallen and pledged to intensify the fight against crime.

But fine words are nothing if they are not matched by action. Tackle crime, tackle corruption in the ranks and give our police officers the tools they need to do their jobs.

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