police officers killed

A SAP member who was killed in the line of duty was laid to rest at the weekend. Images: SAPS.

SAPS confirms that 109 police officers were killed in 11 months

A total of 109 police officers have been killed in South Africa in the past 11 months. Most of the cops were off-duty.

police officers killed

A SAP member who was killed in the line of duty was laid to rest at the weekend. Images: SAPS.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has called on police officers to protect themselves as they face the risk of being killed when fighting crime.

Cele says no police officer should die with a gun in their hand.


Cele held a briefing in Tshwane, on police take down operations on Sunday, 7 April. He revealed that 109 members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) have been killed in the last 11 months.

Cele said while the majority of the members died off duty, at least 36 police officers were killed during the commission of their policing work, such as confrontation with brutal and armed criminals.

Through investigative work conducted by the (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) DPCI, 83 suspects have been arrested in connection with the police killings.

police officers killed
As the number of police officers killed while combating crime in South Africa increases, Police Minister Bheki Cele says officers should protect themselves. Image: SAPS.

Furthermore, Cele said the Police Ministry and SAPS management have noted the ongoing public discourse on police takedowns that have resulted in the loss of lives of suspects.

Cele said the death of any individual in the country, criminal or not, should never be a cause for celebration. However, with some in society doing so, following the takedown of the armed gangs in KZN and Mpumalanga this week- speaks volumes.

“However, an independent directorate is there to investigate the actions of the police in such cases. We wish to allow those processes to unfold.

“With that said, the Ministry and SAPS management remains resolute in its support for the men and women in blue who are at the coalface of hardened criminals,” he said.

“Our message is clear: no police officer should die with a gun in their hand. We call on the police to remain vigilant and protect communities and themselves. At all times, act tough on crime,” he added.

police officers killed
Two of the police officers who were killed in 2023. Images: SAPS.


Earlier this week, KwaZulu-Natal police killed nine alleged criminals in Desai, Marianhill.

The criminals, aged between 18 – 23, allegedly terrorised the community.

While many lauded the men and women in blue for killing the alleged criminals, experts have a different view.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika, crime and policing expert, Calvin Rafadi, called on police to adopt proactive measures to combat crime.

Rafadi said the police acted swiftly but were not proactive.

“Crime intelligence could have monitored the house and apprehended the criminals,” he said.

“Such operations are well-planned. The houses are well-monitored, and by the time you apprehend these criminals, you know who is trigger-happy at that house,” he added.

In 2023, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) said the randomness and apparent targeting of police officers, on or off duty, has inevitably increased members’ feelings of unsafety and insecurity. 

POPCRU spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said it is a clear sign that officers are being singled out as targets for attacks for their firearms which are later utilised to perpetuate further criminal activities.