‘Let’s build an army to fight crime’

Police Minister Bheki Cele, speaks at the memorial service of three slain Khayelitsha police officers.

The provincial community police board has called on residents to mobilise and build an army to fight crime.

Deputy chairperson of the provincial community police board, Franscina Lukas, who is also the chairperson of the Khayelitsha cluster community police board, was speaking at the memorial service of three slain police officers, at the New Apostolic Church, in Tafelsig, on Thursday August 23.

Constables Lonwabo Kili, 30, and Siyamcela Ncipa, 37, were shot and killed in separate attacks on Friday August 17.

Constable Kili, who was stationed at Bellville South police station, was shot while off-duty and had his firearm stolen. Constable 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 officer, Constable Arthur Mantu, 33, was found burnt to death inside a vehicle in Khayelitsha, where he lived and worked, earlier this month.

Ms Lukas said while there had been calls made for soldiers to come into communities to fight crime, the community could be that army.

She said there were a few people who belonged to safety structures in their communities but that was not enough. “Let’s mobilise. Let’’s organise ourselves.

“If we could fight and defeat apartheid, why can’t we organise ourselves and fight crime and defeat crime?

“It is not impossible. It can be done,” she said.

Ms Lukas said the people who were killing the police were living in the communities and that residents should report crime. She also called for criminals who killed police officers to be jailed for life.

“It is unacceptable that police are dying. Who is going to protect us if we are killing them?” she asked.

National police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Khehla John Sithole, said there were not enough police to meet the United Nations standard of one police officer for every 220 people.

He said in South Africa the ratio was one police officer for every 380 people and that with the killing of these three officers, the difference was even more.

Lieutenant-General Sithole said they would be upskilling police officers.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said the state would protect and defend any police officer who upheld the law. “Your job is to protect the citizens of South Africa. If your life is in danger as a citizen, the law says you must use a deadly force, that is the word,” he said.

Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act gives police the right to use lethal force if their lives or those of innocent bystanders are in danger. He said the killers of police officers should be in custody and receive the harshest punishment.