More than 30 police officers across the country have been honoured for going beyond the call of duty. The South African Police Service hosted an award ceremony in Polokwane in Limpopo on Saturday night.
The award ceremony is the culmination of week-long events, including a career exhibition and a fundraising event.
Officers who died in the line of duty were also honoured posthumously.
Warrant officer Roger Mavundla was gunned down together with his wife and three children in Port Edward in KwaZulu-Natal last week.
His 7-year-old daughter is the sole survivor of the attack. A posthumous award was also bestowed on Sergeant Busisiwe Mjwara, who died while rescuing residents during the floods in KwaZulu-Natal in April last year.
The biggest winner, Constable Thato Mothamane, was awarded a vehicle.
“Being a police officer is a calling. For me, it’s a calling. I enjoy every moment of it. I enjoy working with schools, learners. I enjoy making those awareness campaigns, teaching learners about bullying, substance abuse and many other crime-related issues. I have been in the force for 11 years now. Wow, I was not expecting this one. It makes me want to work even harder.”
Other winners include the investigating officer in the Rosemary Ndlovu case, Sergeant Kheshi Mabunda. Ndlovu, who is a former police officer, has been convicted of killing her relatives to benefit from their funeral policies.
Mabunda and another winner, sergeant Johannes Chokwe, say it’s crucial for law enforcement officers to have compassion for the victims of crime.
“Take the complainant as if they are your relative. Whenever you deal with a case make sure you’re dealing with one of your own, you’re helping the community. You must feel for that victim of crime, be in his or her shoes. Believe me, you gonna win whatever case you’re dealing with,” says Mabunda.
Sergeant Johannes Chokwe, who was awarded Detective of the Year says, “I was doing this for the love of this job. For the consideration I have if someone is a complainant, is standing before me, I usually put myself in her shoes or her shoes.”
Police Minister Bheki Cele says it’s important to acknowledge the good work done by police to boost morale and restore society’s confidence in the SAPS.
“There is 40% overpopulation of inmates in prison and all of them did not march there and for anybody to get life it means a members of SAPS did a good job to get them there.”
About R3 million has been raised for the Education Trust to support the families of officers who died on duty.