THE POLICE will not die with their guns in their holsters, National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele again warned yesterday.
His statement came shortly after his visit to the South Coast family of slain Commissioner Michelle Pitout, who had headed the Gamalakhe police station near Margate in KwaZulu-Natal.
Pitout was shot in the head, chest and arm when she and two of her officers, Inspector Trevor Moodley and Detective Constable Grant Phehlukwayo, went to arrest a housebreaking suspect in Tin Town on December 16.
The other two police officers were also wounded but shot dead one of the attackers and wounded two of them.
Pitout, 29, died in hospital on Tuesday.
Cele also visited Phehlukwayo, lying in a critical condition in hospital. Moodley was discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
Speaking outside the Gamalakhe police station, where he visited Pitout's distraught colleagues, Cele warned that the police would not stand by and watch their colleagues being shot down.
"We give the police the equipment to do their jobs, the guns to protect, and they will not die with guns in their holsters."
The police will not stand by and watch the "poison" of crime fester, Cele said.
He urged South Africans to unite against crime, pointing out that the country's united action against apartheid was an example of working together.
He also urged crime-ridden communities to learn from the example set by the people of Gamalakhe, who had worked with the police to find the criminals who had murdered Pitout.
"The feedback from the police is that they have a good relationship with the people here."
Communities had to go forward, working with the police - and not backwards by "protecting thugs".
"If we squeeze those criminals out there will be no place for them."