A sharp increase in police fatalities since the beginning of the year has led to calls from the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) for an urgent redress into the countries firearms laws. The murder of a policeman in Mitchell’s Plain last week, shot in front of his young granddaughter, marked the 8th officer killed in the line of duty within an 11-day period. The shooting also took the total number of police killings to 55 for the year, a damning indictment on the scourge of illegal firearms within the public domain.
Much of the reported cases of have been purely coincidental, related to the risky nature of the job, however some have shown hints of officers purposefully being targeted by criminals and gangsters. This has led to “extreme concern” on the part of Popcru.
“I think this year alone the statistics have risen quite a lot. If you compare the statistics over the past 15 years there have been over 2200 police officers killed alone. From year to year you can see that the statistics keep rising,” declared Popcru spokesperson, Richard Mamabolo.
Expounding on the issue of illegal firearms, Mamabolo brought light to the ‘amnesty’ afforded by government for citizens to forfeited firearms not legally registered to them, highlighting that this had done little to curb the number of illegal weapons doing the rounds. He suggested government need implement stronger measures in terms of gun laws, including harsher sentences to perpetrators of gun related crimes.
In a bid to address the issue, Popcru will now be hosting monthly ‘forums’ within different communities across the country in a bid to restore the relationship between police and the broader public, creating a sense of trust between the respective sides. The union will seek to engage the community on the types of issues and challenges residents are faced with, and how the police can go about addressing them.
“As Popcru we have developed measures which we will be putting in place across the country where we are going to re-establish relations with our communities,” he reiterated.
Popcru are also looking to stoke discussion on the private security sector and the number of firearms within the possession of different security firms. Mamabolo expressed concern that such companies were going unregulated, and were employing individuals without the necessary security screenings.
“We’ve seen in previous years that some of these people would just disappear with the guns they get from these private security companies,” he claimed.
Popcru has called for dialogue on the matter. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)