Cops, live your motto
THERE was a time when the SAPS’s motto was which means “to protect and to serve”. Fortuitously, and for good measure, the slogan is no longer used. Police protection has become a myth.
Communities believe they have been failed by the police – the very people they are supposed to look up to for safety and security.
The constitution stipulates that the SAPS has a responsibility to prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, and protect and secure inhabitants and their property.
However, serious concerns have been expressed following a recent report by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, which has revealed shocking increases in the number of people who die in custody as a result of police action.
The report shows offences committed by the police have shot up in the past year – by 30%, from 159 deaths last year to 207 this year.
Ipid also found that members of the SAPS were involved in 51 rapes, 61 incidents of torture, 66 corruption cases and 159 other criminal cases.
The report also noted that Gauteng had the highest number of people who died due to police brutality, and also ranked the highest regarding rape.
The crimes were committed by on- and off-duty police officers.
For ordinary law-abiding citizens, it is disenchanting that police officers who have been entrusted to protect and serve are being investigated for such serious offences.
Police officers, by virtue of their role in society, are not supposed to be corrupt or commit crime. They are meant to have integrity. There is the saying: A fish rots from the head. A lack of sound leadership would also appear to have infected the police force like a fatal epidemic disease.
The national police commissioner’s office has been marred by leadership struggles since Jackie Selebi’s days. The Marikana massacre further heightened the public’s misgivings about the SAPS when issues of police training came to the fore and the commissioner at the time, Riah Phiyega, was exposed as irrational.
The people are losing patience. The police service must be forthwith beefed up so that it will help safeguard our hard-won democracy. The police must again “protect and serve”.
They must lead by example.