Stronger relationships between communities and the police could help SA in its fight against criminality and spare the lives of police officers who die at the hands of criminals, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
Ramaphosa was addressing the families of slain police officers at the police memorial site at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he also observed the annual SA Police Service Commemoration Day.
The president also paid tribute to the 840 officers who died from Covid-19 since March last year. He praised their efforts in enforcing lockdown regulations around the country.
Here are five important quotes from his address:
A calling that demands selflessness
“This is a difficult calling that demands true selflessness. Unfortunately, we have some in our society who have absolutely no regard for the patriotic duty discharged by our police officers. These are the people who attack our men and women in uniform and undermine the authority of the democratic state.”
Officers and Covid-19
“I pay tribute to the 840 men and women in blue and support staff who succumbed to Covid-19 since its outbreak early last year. When we urged everyone to stay home as part of our fight against this deadly virus, our police officers were out there in the streets serving the nation and enforcing the lockdown regulations for the safety of all South Africans.”
“Let us transform the anger we feel, the frustration, into a sense of determination to jointly rid our streets of all forms of crime. To all our men and women in blue, I call on you to honour your departed colleagues by remaining vigilant at all times and ensuring no police officer dies in the hands of criminals.”
Defend yourselves within confines of the law
“Defend your own lives and the lives of our law-abiding citizens. I also want to call upon the public to partner with the police in the fight against crime. It is because of the collaboration and determination as well as the real focus between ordinary citizens and structures such as the community police forums that police were able to contain the violence and the looting that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.”
“Criminals live with us in our communities. We must work together towards strengthening community-police relations and bring strategic stakeholders on board to bolster the efforts of the police to bring down the levels of serious and violent crime in our country.”
Ramaphosa paid tribute to the work done by public servants since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying they have kept the country afloat.
“At a time when shortcomings in the public service are amplified and bad news falls like an avalanche, we acknowledge our public servants and their service.
“While much is made of those who are errant and unprincipled, the vast majority of public servants understand the weight of responsibility their positions entail, and discharge their duties faithfully.”
The tribute comes as the country celebrates Public Service Month. He applauded their service delivery contribution to the country’s fight against the pandemic which had demonstrated SA still had capable and committed public servants who serve diligently.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, civil servants have displayed courage and resilience in discharging their duties, often under the most difficult of circumstances. Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, they have kept the wheels of our country turning and have ensured service delivery continued.”
“We have learnt many lessons from the pandemic. Covid-19 has exposed the chasms between the planning and execution of public service delivery, and the reality of government departments still working in silos when they should be working together in a seamless, development-orientated manner.”
The president acknowledged more needed to be done to root out the ill in the sector.
“Though we must continue in earnest with our task of rooting out those whose conduct makes them ill-suited for public service, we must at the same time acknowledge the vast majority are exemplary civil servants. They have kept us going.”
SA was on course with developing a new integrated model for service delivery, he added.
“We have set ourselves the challenge of building a capable, ethical state. We remain firmly on course towards professionalising the public service and transforming it into a group of men and women who are able and committed to serving our people and their interests.
“We call on public servants to be part of this process by identifying ways in which we can realise a public service focused on meeting the needs and advancing the interests of citizens. Our commitment to building a state that is ethical, capable and, above all, developmental, necessitates that civil servants see themselves not merely as state functionaries but as development workers.”