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Police officers have targets on their backs and have to constantly be vigilant to prevent attacks on themselves and their families.
This was the view of a police officer who spoke to The Mercury on condition of anonymity yesterday.
The officer was commenting after Police Minister Bheki Cele raised concern about the recent attacks on officers and called on them to defend themselves. He was speaking at the SAPS’s excellence awards in Polokwane on Saturday.
Last week, Port Edward Warrant Officer Roger Mavundla was shot dead along with his wife and two children. A third child is still in hospital.
The officer said threats came as a result of the police doing their jobs.
“There are times when you drop your daughter off at school and you are not sure if you will be able to see your daughter at night because of the dangers of being a policeman.
“The unfortunate thing is that by doing your duty and shooting somebody who is involved in a serious crime, you can become a victim where you are targeted in revenge attacks. You have to fear for your life at home and for your family.”
The officer added that being based at a police station close to home meant criminals could easily find out where a particular officer lived.
“If you are involved in shooting and arresting suspects, they can come to your house and attack you and your family. I have a friend who with his partner prevented an armed robbery and had to shoot three men while two suspects escaped. He could not live in his community as he was being threatened and his life was in danger. He was forced to move to another area for fear of his and his family’s lives.”
Nthabeleng Molefe, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union provincial secretary, said unions agreed with Cele that police had to defend themselves when they came under attack.
Molefe added that the unions and the government needed to come up with ways to prevent police killings.
“We need Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act to be revisited so police have more protection when using firearms. We also want those responsible for killing officers to be charged with treason and face the full might of the law.”
Mpho Kwinika, deputy president of the Independent Policing Union Of South Africa (Ipusa), said the union was concerned about the attacks.
“Ipusa reiterates the call made by the minister to members, to decisively protect their lives but within the ambit of the law. Police are allowed to use their firearms when their lives and those of the others are in danger.”
Mary de Haas, a KZN violence monitor, said the attacks on the police were the result of a failure of crime intelligence.
“These attacks on police would not happen so frequently if crime intelligence was functioning.”