Slain cops honoured at memorial
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega yesterday warned Cape Town’s gangsters who kill police officers: “We will not back down.”
Phiyega addressed a packed Oosternberg Oasis Church in Kuils River suburb at the memorial service for three police officers murdered last week.
A fourth police officer had also been killed over a seven-day period but a memorial service was held for him last week.
Gangsters allegedly killed the officers who were attacked in separate incidents.
“Criminals are fighting back. I have a message for them. We will not back down. I urge all (police) members not to give up and find those who committed these senseless killings. Let justice be done,” said Phiyega.
“We must root out these ruthless killers. There should be no rest until the perpetrator is caught.”
Phiyega said the murder of the four officers means “1,200 citizens are without dedicated care” as “our ratio is one officer for 360 people”.
She said there had been 303 attacks on police officers in the Western Cape last year.
The province’s police commissioner Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer said at yesterday’s memorial that gangsters were fighting local police. He said the persons killing officers were aged 22 to 25.
“We won’t give in to these criminals. We won’t give up our freedom to a minority in this country… What we have seen is because we are taking back the streets from criminals. These members are the hope of our country,” said Lamoer.
“Where in the world do you hear the people we serve every day are the same people that killed us? Where do you hear that we the protectors of society are being mowed down?”
He added: “Four of our members were killed in seven days. When will this stop?”
Phiyega comforted the families of the deceased police officers.
The three whose memorial was held yesterday were Seargent Bafuni Mdlalo, Seargent Landile Yengo and Constable Lungiso Depha.
All three would be buried in the Eastern Cape. Their families were still making funeral arrangements.
Yengo’s brother Mzanele Yengo told the congregation the slain officer “played a big role in comforting our family in times of difficulty. He played a fatherly role”.
“We were shocked when we heard the news that he was no more. We were deeply pained because we know he was not a troublesome man. Only God knows why he was shot,” said Yengo.
“It seems the criminals are getting out of hand. Some gangsters are trying to govern this province.”
Police unions also raised their concerns to the congregation. Thobile Ngantweni from the South African Policing Union said “we can’t continue with business as usual”.
“We need to look at our operations. The president should make funds available to the SAPS. We need to prevent crime, not focus on protecting ourselves,” he said.
Mcebisi Mbolekwa, provincial secretary of the police and prisons civil rights union (Popcru), called on community safety MEC Dan Plato to “put into effect solutions to this problem”.
Plato had responded at the weekend with a R50,000 offer for persons with information that could lead to the prosecution of cop killers.
Western Cape police yesterday said: “There are no developments to report regarding the investigations at this stage.”
Phiyega meanwhile also asked whether “unnecessary criticism” of the police leads to murders of the men and women in blue.
“Are we not creating animosity with these utterances particularly in this province? This unnecessary criticism must go. It causes us pain and lives,” she said.
“I am appealing that we think deeply about what we say of police. They can’t be positioned as enemies of the people.”
Premier Helen Zille and Plato were last month accused of campaigning against the police force.