Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Police, Ms M.M. Sotyu, MP at the Memorial Service of the late Constable Francis Rasuge, SAPS Training College, Hammanskraal
11 Apr 2012
The Bereaved Family of Rasuge
All Relatives, Friends and Colleagues of the late Constable Francis Rasuge
President of ANC Women’s League Ms Angie Motshekga
All SAPS senior managers and staff present
Community and Religious Leaders present
Representatives from the Unions present
Members of the Media present
Ladies and Gentlemen
Eight years ago, none of us would have expected that a young, dedicated and beautiful police officer would lose her life, untimely. Like most of our police officers who dedicate their entire lives to safeguarding those who are abused, tortured and under vicious attacks from criminals, Constable Francis Rasuge could not fold her arms and watch such miseries continue under her watch.
When she decided to become a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS), we are led to believe that she was driven by passion for her job. She was driven by a commitment to serve not to be served.
She could have followed another career path, which perhaps would have made her wealthier, but we are led to believe that her commitment to the noble cause of safety is what influenced her career choice. And I am certain on each day where she had, as part of a collective, contributed to an arrest or removal in society of a dangerous criminal, she found contentment and pride in her work.
On the occasion of my address of the National Police Day in January this year, I remarked that: as the police leadership we wanted to take a reflection and pay tribute to our heroes. Unsung heroes who dedicate their lives to fight criminals, in the process risking their own lives. Unsung heroes who work towards a secure and peaceful South Africa. And we have so many such unsung heroes within the SAPS.
Each day must be recognised as a Police Day because when our officers fight crime, they do so daily. When called upon to thwart dangerous criminals, they do not give excuses yet march forward with commitment and vigour.
That is why on an occasion such as this, we urge all present at this memorial service to take a moment to reflect on the difficult task facing policemen and women.
Policing is a calling. A calling to safeguard the citizens of the Republic, irrespective of race or gender. Policing after all, should not be a career but a special calling which is carried out with that kind of understanding.
We have as society a huge task. This task includes the improvement of the quality of life of all the people of our country in a manner that will ensure enhanced levels of safety and security. This improvement must within all of us as members of the SAPS, in honour of people like Constable Rasuge.
Being afforded an opportunity to safeguard the Republic is not a task that must be taken lightly, it is an honour. Being tasked with ensuring that society remains safe against criminals, is a mandate we need to carry with dedication. And we remain committed to this daunting task.
Ideally, Constable Rasuge, should have been with us on this occasion or many other occasions. But it was not to be. We could never reverse the agony of that fateful day but for those of us who are today leading this organisation, we still have a duty to ensure that our officers, particularly women officers, are safeguarded against vicious criminals and abuse partners.
Constable Rasuge like many dedicated police officers who took the oath to serve her country, she put her personal interest below the nation’s interest. She did this by taking the risks that are very hard for most of us ordinary people to imagine; risking her life to protect her community. Indeed we have a right to feel aggrieved of being robbed of a young and talented officer.
On this occasion, 8 years after a protracted period of anxiety, we are here to say we shall never forget Constable Rasuge’s contribution to the fight and defeat of crime. We have a duty as members of the SAPS to carry on the baton in her memory. We have a duty to remain incorruptible, dedicated and continuously serve our communities, particularly the Temba community where she comes from. Her passing must not give criminals an edge, instead must inspire us to work even harder.
We know the saying that "wa thinta abafazi, wa thinta imbhokodo’ which means ‘you strike a woman you strike a rock." I am using this analogy selectively to emphasise the bravery of women in our society. Women who despite some of the vicious challenges and hardships that life often throws at them, they become victorious in the end. This is what we expect no only from our SAPS officers, but from women in this community as well.
We need to unite in the fight against crime. As women we endure the struggles and negative challenges yet through our dedication and commitment, you remain “firm rocks.” You are mothers, wives and sisters and you need to affirm your rightful places in society.
In almost all the sectors of our society; be it business, government or community structures one is bound to find such a woman: a woman of character and dedication. An exceptional woman who goes beyond just the normal duty, but putting an extra effort in whatever life challenges throw at her.
As government and as police leadership, we do recognise the important role that women play in the fight against crime, whether as police officers or civilians. When we do so we move from an acknowledgement that their skills, abilities and talents need to be nurtured, developed and importantly, recognised. Our presence here serves to commend and express our gratitude to this cause.
I am grateful to see many members of the SAPS Women’s Network, which is an important initiative within the department. Its role and objective includes providing a platform for women’s contribution and participation in changing the lives of the ordinary citizens, particularly, the victims of crime.
We have, as the police leadership publicly recognised the important role the Network plays in championing service delivery and social crime-prevention to women within SAPS. Members of the Network, who are women police officers and civilian employees, function as champions for campaigns, for instance, on social crime-prevention programs aimed at reducing contact crimes.
Today on this occasion and as a further remembrance of Constable Rasuge, I am challenging all these women officers to champion the spousal abuse of other women. They must become the protectors of such women, particularly those who are in rural areas, who are affected by sexual and physical abusers. Reach out and touch these vulnerable women because their plight is also your plight.
Violence against women and children is still prevalent in our society. We are therefore encouraged to have within our department, initiatives such as this network, which forms but one of our many approaches in fighting the spectre of violence against women and children. Still, we will never be satisfied if we hear that a woman was raped and murdered by her partner. Let us rid society of such monsters.
A key challenge we need to put to the network would be a comprehensive reflection of its impact, since formation. This reflection should not be based on the increase in membership, but how has it impacted and responded to some of the socio-economic conditions facing women within the SAPS?
We need to begin to evaluate how has it contributed to the social dialogue and cohesion amongst women? If so, how has this cohesion translated into tangible programmes to reduce the levels of crime, particularly on women?
We need to introspect our achievements as SAPS on whether we have done much to protect our women officers and whether we have indeed provided the necessary support structures for female employees of the SAPS. The wellbeing of our officers is a matter that has received priority from the police leadership and we shall therefore hold management accountable to ensure that, from recruitment to retirement, these issues are addressed.
We also need introspect how far we have gone in facilitating the career development of women through training programmes; development of leadership programmes both within SAPS and outside and whether such skills have contributed to our goal: fighting and reducing crime.
While these goals should be focused on inspiring other women to the Network’s cause, they should instil fear in the criminals. Criminals must not view such initiatives as pep-talk platforms but rather as crucial programmes that aim to stop criminals in their selfish goals of robbing and killing. You should be seen as a force to be reckoned with in the fight against crime.
Our country has, over the years produced exceptional women who have made a valuable contribution to changing and improving their socio-economic situations. Such women come from all walks of life. When we reflect in the coming years on future women leaders, it would be great if some of these remarkable women emanated from the SAPS Women’s Network. We are confident that we have such a calibre of women in you.
Through this structure, the SAPS women were able to spread their wings to cultivate, maintain and enhance partnerships with community-based structures. These included business, churches and Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs), schools, orphanage and old-age homes who have benefited from these partnerships.
The continued oppression of women can as well be worsened by some other women who use women oppression to climb the social ladder. They use the gender ticket for narrow material benefit which has no bearing to the course of women’s emancipation. Thus, the creation of the Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, headed by a woman is a victory upon which we need to build women’s emancipation programmes.
It has been long, sad, anxious 8 years of waiting to know what happened to a colleague, a sister and a friend. It was not easy but today, as we commemorate the life of Constable Rasuge, we urge the family and friends to accept that her work is completed. As we officially bid her soul goodbye, we want to say: thank you to the Rasuge family to having allowed and blessed us with Francis.
As a SAPS family, we shall forever be grateful. It will take time but time heals wounds. When such caring and committed persons are unexpectedly taken away from us, when such acts happen naturally, we do admit and try to understand. However, when such individuals get taken away from us, through senseless and irresponsible acts, it causes unbearable pain to us.
That is why as government we would like to reiterate that we will not be derailed by cowardly acts of violence against our members, particularly women officers. We have cried enough and therefore we say: no more.
May the spirit of Constable Francis Rasuge rest in peace.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
11 Apr 2012
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