Police rookies, who completed their training recently , were told that they have a duty to be accountable to the communities they will serve.
Afrika Khumalo, the Mpumalanga provincial commissioner who deputised for Safety and Security MEC Dinah Pule as main speaker, spoke at the graduation ceremony of 396 new policemen and women in Middelburg this week.
An additional three members received their certificates posthumously.
Khumalo, pictured, told rookies to "always carry the aspirations of our people, irrespective of colour, creed or religion".
They were also told to respect the laws of the country.
The commissionerurged the new members to protect women and children who were abused.
He kept the packed hall entertained with incidents reported at local police stations such as the officers found sleeping in the back of a police van at a station in the highveld area.
People came to lay a complaint only to find the charge office deserted.
They went to the back of the police station with the local mayor and found officers "snoring in the back of a police van".
He warned the rookies not to sleep when they were supposed to be doing their job at night.
"I don't want to hear reports that police didn't respond to a complaint because vehicles were not available.
"I know that vehicles are there because you sleep in them."
He lashed out at station commissioners for failing to issue new members with copies of the Africa Concept booklets on the province's strategy to combat crime. The majority of the rookies said they knew nothing about the booklets, which were launched last December and come in seven of the official languages.
Khumalo thanked the families of the new members for allowing them to serve their country.