Phiyega urges police to work closely & in teams

Phiyega said officers must use their radios, give each other back up and be aware of their surroundings.

FILE: National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has urged members to work closely with their colleagues and to watch each other's back when faced with brazen criminals who have demonstrated they won't hesitate ti kill cops.

The commissioner was reacting to the latest police killing in Jeppestown on Friday, which has brought to 53 the number of police officers that have been killed since January.

This week, constables died in shootouts with robbers in Temba and Vosloorus, while a Hawks official was stabbed to death while changing flat tyres on the N2 highway in cape town.

Phiyega said police officers must use their radios, give each other back up and be aware of their surroundings when entering dangerous situations.

The police's Vish Naidoo said "ensuring that they call for necessary backup when they know that the situation that they are approaching is not just potentially dangerous but also life-threatening. We're continuously educating our members to treat every situation as life-threatening."

Naidoo said the cases against several suspected cop killers are being prioritised.

Naidoo said five suspects were arrested within hours of the police officer being gunned down in Jeppestown, while five firearms including an AK47 assault rifle were seized.

He says police are working tirelessly on several recent cases.

"Suspects were arrested in a killing of a police officer in Temba. There were two suspects involved in that, one suspect was shot on the scene and the second suspect was arrested. Arrests were made also for the killing of the police officer in the Western Cape."

Naidoo said there should be stronger condemnation of these callous crimes.

The police commissioner said she is horrified by the latest increase of police killings and is urging every man and woman in blue to treat every situation as potentially life-threatening.

Phiyega said personal safety is controlled by the individual members, who must employ their training and equipment and work closely with their colleagues while on duty.

POPCRU SLAMS COP KILLINGS

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said the spate of recent police murders is an attack on the country's democracy and the perpetrators must be dealt with harshly.

Popcru's Richard Mamabolo said the murder of police officers has gone beyond mere criminality, and threatens the very foundations South Africa is built on.

"It's come to a stage where criminals are undermining police and this undermines our democratic institutions and which are meant to safe keep our country."

Naidoo added that training was improved following a study of the circumstances in which members were being killed.

Meanwhile, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu said politicians should show an equal measure of outrage over the number of cop killings in the country as they do when South African Police Services members are accused of police brutality.

Sotyu visited the family of one of the latest victims, Petrus Holtz, in the Western Cape.

Fifty-year-old Petrus Holtz was stabbed to death on the N2 highway on Wednesday.

Sotyu visited the family of a slain policeman to pass on her condolences, but before meeting the bereft wife and children she vented.

"I don't hear anything from the political parties condemning what has happened but when a police officer by mistake shoots or kills a member of the community, you'll hear from all corners.. 'Police brutality, police brutality'. Within 24 hour we lost three officers, but you don't hear anything."

Holtz was stabbed to death after he was forced to stop along the N2 highway.

His tyres had been punctured by an obstruction on the road.

Meanwhile, the grandmother of one of the men accused of killing the police officer on the N2 highway believes he's guilty.

Adrian Hendricks and co-accused Xavier Ryan, both in their early 20's, have appeared in the Somerset West Magistrates Court today.

It's alleged they obstructed the highway, causing two flat tyres, and then ambushed, robbed and stabbed Holz to death near Macassar on Wednesday morning.

Sixty-year-old Easterine Hendricks said her grandson has been a 'problem child' ever since he lost his parents at the age of five.

She said it's not hard to believe Hendricks played a part in the attack given his history of aggressive behaviour.

"I'm not unhappy because he committed the deed. He needs to pay for what he did. But my heart is sore for what happened."

The two accused face murder and robbery charges and Hendricks has also been charged with a third count of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

They have applied for legal aid and will remain in custody until their next court appearance on 7 August.