Police Minister Bheki Cele has decried the callous murder of 24 police officers in the country in the first three months of 2021.
Cele highlighted the plague while releasing the crime statistics of the fourth quarter of the 2020/21 financial year.
The “unfolding crisis”, he said, had the potential to “threaten” the country’s peace and stability.
“Eleven of them were killed on duty while preventing, combating or solving a crime,” said the Minister at a briefing on Friday.
Some of the officers were attacked or ambushed, while conducting patrols, and had their official firearms stolen.
The National Crime Statistics the Minister released reflect crimes reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) from 1 January to 31 March 2021.
“So it cannot be normal that police officers who each day, go out there to protect and to serve, are killed and the public remains unshaken. There is no public outrage, no outcry from activists and NGOs and no one is demanding justice for them,” said Cele.
The Minister said criminal acts against the police cannot be ignored and should be addressed at community level.
In addition, he urged the SAPS to improve and cultivate partnerships with communities.
“If we can maintain and improve these latest crime figures, we will turn the tide against crime. We cannot afford to give criminals terrorising communities, any room to breathe. It is clear they will stop at nothing to get their way, including brazenly attacking you as you do your job.”
Meawhile, the Minister said that the COVID-19 pandemic had claimed the lives of 618 police officers in the past year.