CAPE TOWN, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Any attack on police officers is "tantamount to treason," Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Sunday as the country mourned the deaths of police officers killed in the line of duty.
"I will continue to be loud and say any attack to a police officer is a direct attack to the authority of the state and it should be regarded as treason," Cele said in commemoration of the annual Police Service Commemoration Day which falls on September 6.
Cele paid tribute to police officers who lost their lives while conducting their duties.
He said 40 police officers died in the line of duty in the past year.
Deputy President David Mabuza also joined other South Africans in honoring those police officers "whose lives were lost while defending the noble ideals of peace, security and freedom."
"We mark this day in our annual calendar, to remember the fallen heroes and heroines whose deeds serve as an example to all of us, about what it means to be selfless and patriotic in the service of humanity," Mabuza said in a commemoration address.
He voiced "serious concern" that police officers are killed by suspects resisting arrest while responding to complaints, effecting arrests, in stop-and-search operations, and in vehicle accidents.
"Equally, it is highly disturbing that police officers lose their lives in stop-and-search operations and are sometimes murdered for their firearms," said Mabuza.
The government, he said, will continue to build a police service that is effectively equipped, professionally managed and whose members are highly motivated to perform this important national service to the people of South Africa.
According to Mabuza, the South African Police Service is enhancing skills of its members through training with the aim of minimizing attacks on police members.
Mabuza urged the whole society to continue working together to fight crime and create a better and safer environment for all South Africans. Enditem