Speech by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service General Bheki Cele at the Medal Parade


7 Apr 2011

Deputy National Commissioners

Divisional Commissioners

Provincial Commissioners

All officers observed and our recipients of medals

Good morning

It is at events such as these that I feel especially proud to be associated with the men and women of the South African Police Service (SAPS). It is a moment where one will say to all of you, without hesitation, they are all part of our family! Indeed we want to surround our household with this calibre of police officer. Our family must consist of people who are prepared to go the extra mile, people who will never undermine what my family represents for the good of others, people in whose hands we will entrust our life – not only as the leader of this organisation, but also as a member of society.

The quality of being brave lies in being fearless, showing courage and being bold under difficult or dangerous conditions.

Bravery is frequently associated with an instinctive quality of being familiar with danger that makes one braver.

Fearlessness emphasises absence of fear and resolute self-possession.

Courage implies consciously rising to a specific test by drawing on a reserve of inner strength.

Boldness stresses readiness to meet danger or difficulty and often a tendency to seek it out. It has been said that if we back away from a contest where we are required to win then others who are stronger will pass us by.

Given the profession of a police officer, our officers are faced by danger every day. It is by facing these dangers daily that our officers become familiar with danger. This familiarity allows them to become braver where they triumph over fear or pain. The recipients of medals have indeed fought, without hesitation, danger to our community.

The deeds of heroes and heroines are often quickly forgotten by those who want to criticise the SAPS at every given moment. These deeds are overshadowed by putting the focus on the few in the SAPS who commit less respectable deeds. Those who indeed deserve to become the focus of media and public attention are the heroes of the SAPS, including those who without reserve sacrifice their very lives in the fight for the safety of us all.

It is, however, encouraging to those who excel in their duty and in bravery to know that the lives they have touched – “The hostages, the victims and the sufferers will never forget the calm, confident and fearless courage by our very own men and women in blue”.

The deaths and killings of our brave heroes and heroines remain a concern to our government, for the Minister of Police and all of us. We need to highlight the fact that the 86 members of the SAPS who died in the line of duty during the past year did so while being brave and protecting our communities. In the past three months 12 of our members have paid the ultimate price by losing their lives in the line of duty. A member who is killed in a motor vehicle accident usually dies while pursuing criminals in order to arrest them, at whatever cost to themselves, their family and friends.

Here we are reminded of the sad occurrence of the deaths of seven of our elite police officers in their pursuit of armed robbers in extremely dangerous circumstances. They died in a tragic helicopter accident in July last year. These officers were all honoured posthumously by being awarded the Gold cross for bravery.

In the past year, we as management have been presented with examples of exemplary performance and heroism. These performances have been rewarded by the SAPS by presenting our officers with medals for bravery, certificates of commendation and accompanying remuneration benefits.

Nine Gold cross for bravery, two Silver cross for bravery, 152 Certificates of Commendation by the National Commissioner, three Certificates of appreciation by the National Commissioner and 10 Certificates of commendation for women of the SAPS at the Prestige Awards were awarded.

Some of the examples that stood out for us as management included the following:

Constable Constance Nyathi who rescued a one-year-old baby who had been abandoned by her mother. 

Warrant Officer Ludick who, through dedication, arrested a suspect for twenty-one cases of theft and recovered 27 vehicles.

Constable Ngobeni and his colleagues who arrested several ATM bombers armed with several firearms, stolen vehicles and explosives.

Constable Nyongwana and his colleagues who confronted and arrested a gang of seven criminals before they could carry out a cash-in-transit heist and seized several firearms that in all probability would have been used to kill innocent bystanders.

Reservist Constable Mochine and colleagues who pursued and arrested three suspects for hijacking and who, at the same time, resisted a payment of a R15 000 bribe.

A team of police officers who assisted in a search-and-rescue mission following an earthquake in Haiti and another team of police officers who were held hostage for 16 days while being deployed as United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Police advisors in Sudan to assist with effecting peace in SUDAN.

Constable Khonzapi and others who saved a man from drowning while trapped in a vehicle that plunged into a dam.

Constable Khoza, Warrant Officer Conradie, Reservist Mamarara and Warrant Officer Yende who in separate incidents and along with their collegues, arrested suspects for business robbery while being shot at. One of these dangerous suspects received a sentence of 54 years’ imprisonment.

Warrant Office Killian and his colleagues who arrested a suspect for dealing in drugs and resisting a bribe of R1 million.

Female Constable Mgobhozi and Colonel Wiese and colleagues arrested a rapist and serial rapist who received two and five life sentences in jail respectively.

Constable Maseko and colleagues who extinguished a fire which engulfed a bus, and thereby saved lives.

Warrant Officer Merrick prevented a robbery and arrested an armed suspect while he was off duty.

Constable Ntandane and colleagues who arrest a suspect for the murder and attempted murder of a police officer.

I could keep you in awe with accounts of the amazing deeds that members of our family do every day.

Today we again award the bravery of four of our respected family members, Constable Mc Lean, Student Constable Michiel, Lt Col Williams and Warrant Officer Odendaal.

Constable Mc Lean and Student Constable Michiel did not hesitate for a moment to enter a burning house where windows were already shattering from the heat in a successful attempt to rescue a baby and an elderly person. The baby, although suffering from multiple burns, was rescued. Unfortunately the mother could not be rescued. The members sustained burns to their hands as well.

Lt Col Williams and Warrant Officer Odendaal entered a burning van without hesitation after it came to a standstill on the edge of a bridge after an accident. While the van was balancing on the bridge, engulfed in flames and its windows exploding, these two officers managed to pull six people, including a baby, from the van.

These extraordinary deeds of bravery certainly warrant the awarding of the Silver Cross for Bravery and the Gold Cross for Bravery respectively. 

Again I would like to express my appreciation to all members of the SAPS who diligently go about working together to make our communities safe and having them feel safe.

As is the case with our daring task at hand Winston Churchill once said “We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible.”

My heroes and heroines of the SAPS, you are a part of our family and I salute you! 

Source: South African Police Service

Issued by: South African Police Service
7 Apr 2011