Remarks by Minister of Police, EN Mthethwa to members of the National
30 Apr 2010
National Police Commissioner, General Bheki Cele
Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Solly Shoke
Lieutenant-General, Arno Lamoer
Chairperson of the National Press Club, Yusuf Abramjee
Executive members of the National Press Club
South African Police Service (SAPS) management and police officers present
Families and friends present
Members of the media
We once again wish to express our appreciation to the National Press Club for affording us this platform to communicate with our society, Africa and the world. We meet three days after South Africans celebrated national Freedom Day and our address to you this morning appropriately coincides with the freedom of some of our members.
There is a renowned and profound parable about a shepherd and his flock of sheep. It narrates of shepherd who has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost. He leaves the other 99 grazing on the hillside and goes to look for the lost sheep. When he finds it, I tell you, he feels far happier over this one sheep than over 99 that did not get lost.
The valuable message we derive from this teaching is that indeed the shepherd could have easily focused on the 99 sheep because after all, this flock would have sustained his livelihood for many years to come. Each and every sheep is uniquely special to him. This morning, there is no better and appropriate reflection to describe our emotions and sentiments than through this parable.
The leadership, management, the entire South African Police Service family, South Africans, the Sudanese government as well as the United Nations (UN) learnt with shock about the tragic news of the abduction of four South African peace keepers in Sudan on 11 April 2010 at approximately 15h50.
The mysterious abduction of the SAPS members; Colone Ntlogeleng Menda Aucone (Gauteng), Captain Michael Annett (Western Cape), Sergeant Michael Melanzi (Gauteng) and Constable Mmasebelalo Macey Ramantsi (Gauteng), under the command of the United Nations made disturbing local and international headlines.
Preliminary reports revealed that these four members were travelling from the operational base to their accommodation in a Nyala in Sudan, when they were abducted by a rebel group called the "Popular Revolutionary Forces". United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the government of Sudan and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security immediately alerted us while also commenced with negotiations for their safe release.
The news on the release of our members this week (Monday, 26 April 2010) was received with much relief, appreciation and joy not only their families, but by government and the South African community at large. Since their release, our officers have been under the care of a United Nations Social Worker and Charge d’ Affaires, Rasheeda Adam.
Their families, whose agony during the past two weeks must have been having a negative toll. We sincerely appreciate and join you in your joy with these four unsung heroes. Our sincere appreciation also goes to the whole United Nations team and other bodies who have been instrumental in securing their release.
They are with us this morning, as you can see them; they have undergone the necessary medical and psychological examinations. We will in the coming weeks provide the necessary psychological support until they are physically and mentally fit to return to work.
Today we are humbled to celebrate the home coming of our members who have endured 15 days of emotional suffering. These dedicated members, when called upon to serve their continent, remained focused on the tough task at hand and did not get influenced by political factions. Their only sin was just doing what they do best; keeping the safety of the people of Sudan, under the United Nations peacekeeping umbrella.
We wish to express our sincerest acknowledgment and appreciation for the working together, tremendous support and cooperation from various departments, particularly the President of the Republic of South Africa,
His Excellency Jacob Zuma and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation who played significant roles, our counterparts from the African continent and the international community at large. We could have met here to commemorate their passing, but we are excited that we meet them face to face and that they are fine.
The past three weeks have been difficult for us all, in particular the families of our members. Their narration and sharing of what transpired during their ordeal has enlightened us as the leadership and management of the seriousness of what transpired in Sudan; hence our solace is that we are grateful for their safe return to South Africa.
Fellow South Africans, this ordeal has somehow ignited some reflections on our part, not only as the police force but as a country in general. Today we speak on behalf of all 190 000 members of the SAPS who on daily basis go beyond the call of duty in keeping to the fundamental mandate of serving and protecting fellow South Africans. The external deployment of our members in peace keeping operations in war torn countries comes with responsibility, commitment and bravery.
In this particular instance we are content that our members displayed diligence and determination under difficult circumstances. For us being a police officer is more than just a job, it is a calling and for that we shall live and die for. They are the shield of the nation and carry with them immense responsibilities on their shoulders.
They had conducted themselves peacefully at all times, regardless of the abduction and despite all the cowardly inspired acts to dampen their spirits and threat to their lives. They remained focused on their mission; to protect, serve, empower and execute their tasks with excellence. That is why we will forever be grateful and emphasise our motto: "SAPS Members, My Family, Together Pushing Back the Frontiers of Evil".
South Africa is immensely blessed to have the kind of officers we have. We say with conviction that there are lots of good men and women within the force. On an occasion such as this homecoming, it is appropriate to not only recognise their commitment to serve but their selfless dedication to the safety of the republic and the continent.
No insurmountable pressure or working conditions, like the one these members experienced in Sudan, can negatively influence their dedication and loyalty to protect those who are vulnerable and insecure.
This cowardly act shall not deter our Force or our country in terms of continuing to contribute to other countries and playing a pivotal role in the continent's stability and development. Instead it will serve to inspire us even more to never give up in our duties towards defending the weak, vulnerable and aggrieved members of our society.
This morning we gather here with celebrations of the Freedom Day and the subsequent freedom of these brave police officers still occupying our minds vividly. We recommit ourselves to intensifying the fight against crime in whatever form it manifests itself.
SAPS Members, My Family, Together Pushing Back the Frontiers of Evil.
I thank you.
Tel: 012 393 4341 or 021 467 7007
Fax: 012 393 2833 or 021 467 7033
Cell: 082 045 4024
Issued by: Ministry of Police
30 April 2010
Issued by: Ministry of Police
30 Apr 2010
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