Three of the men were killed in the Western Cape and were honoured with a memorial service attended by Police Minister Bheki Cele, national police commissioner Khehla Sitole and provincial police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula.
Four wreaths were laid down at the Mitchells Plain New Apostolic Church to mark the deaths of four policemen killed this month. The fourth officer was killed in the North West province earlier this month.
Lonwabo Kili, 30, and Siyamcela Ncipa, 37, were shot and killed in separate attacks on Friday last week. Kili, who was stationed at Bellville South police station, was shot while off-duty and had his firearm stolen.
Ncipa, from Mowbray police station, was also off-duty when he was shot twice in the head outside the residence of a friend in Khayelitsha. His firearm was also stolen. The third person, Arthur Matu, 33, was found burnt to death inside a vehicle in Khayelitsha earlier this month.
“A person arrested for killing a policeman should not just be arrested. Killing police should be treason because you’re attacking the state,” said Cele. “They’re saying to the people of South Africa that they will start with police first before coming for them.
“Worst affected are constables and sergeants – every day we bury constables and sergeants. The question is, what are we doing about it? We need to increase our tactical awareness and responses. There is clearly a campaign of getting police guns.”
Sitole said a decision was made to provide police officers with tactical response training to intensify their street survival skills and to ensure they were never undermined.
Sitole said an activation plan would also be implemented when a cop was attacked, which would trigger other officers to drop what they were doing and immediately respond and assist the officer.
“Three families are without breadwinners today; more than five children are without fathers. There is trauma caused to those working with them. What a blow to the human capital investment strategy of the organisation.
“We will be training you at a level to have technical response agility. You need to be agile and be able to respond accordingly. “Those who kill us undermine the authority of the state and under-value us,” said Sitole.
Khayelitsha station commander Mkuseli Nkwitshi, who found Matu’s body, said he was shocked to discover that Matu was killed after joining the police force as recently as 2015.
“He was very young: he was born in 1985 and was a young guy with a bright future ahead of him. He was with us for a short period and I saw potential in him. We were looking forward to getting more achievements out of him
“It was not easy going to his family to tell them. I want to tell his family to rest assured on Judgement Day they (the criminals) will answer to the deeds they’ve done,” said Nkwitshi.
Cele said the investigation into the deaths of the officers would be high on the agenda for Hawks and said that policy would be looked at to ensure that the children of the fallen men would be taken care of and they would have access to education.