Pretoria: Members of the South African Police Service deployed to the United Nations African Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan, returned home after serving 18 months in Darfur and South Sudan.
Police members made up of 24 non-commissioned officers and five commissioned officers were deployed in Darfur under the command of a commissioned officer. The composition of the contingent consisted of 11 females and 18 males.
An additional 10 commissioned officers were deployed in South Sudan. Their contingent was made up of seven females and three males.
The mandate of the members included the following:
Humanitarian aid as well as day to day policing duties;
Monitor the service delivery of the police of the Government of Darfur & South Sudan to the community;
Facilitate the building of good relations between the community and police;
Give advice and expert knowledge on the successful adoption and implementation of community policing
Upon arrival in the country, members attended a debriefing session in Pretoria where members met with senior management of the SAPS as well as the SAPS Employee Health and Wellness Unit. The debriefing session was utilised as an information sharing session in which members gave feedback on their experience.
Some narrated how over and above their day to day duties, they provided Humanitarian Aid to orphans and the underprivileged, by buying day-to-day basic necessities like toiletries and food.
The Divisional Commissioner for Operational Response Services, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela who was present during the debriefing session, thanked members for their work in both countries.
"You have been great ambassadors not only to the South African Police Service, but for the Republic of South Africa. You have served your nation with pride and dignity. We are indeed happy to have you home so that you can continue the great work that you have been doing when you were deployed in both countries".
Lt Gen Mawela also urged members to utilise the skills they have acquired to continue the war against crime.
"May you also implement what you have been taught here at home to ensure that we continue the war against crime in South Africa".
Since 2005, the South African Police Service's External Deployment Unit has been part of the UN Peacekeeping Missions to assist in ensuring peace and stability in the continent.
The South African Police Service's involvement in peace missions has grown over the years with more than 1496 officers taking part in the programme thus far. Yearly, members are encouraged to apply to take part in the programme and only those who meet the requirements are chosen. Members are bound by the criteria for recruitment and selection as stipulated by the UN's minimum requirements.
Only police officials between 22 and 58 years, with at least 5 years of service, in possession of a driving license and of sound mental and physical status can be considered.
Those chosen are taken through a pre-deployment training programme which consists of; policy developments in peacekeeping, engagements in community policing, gender-based violence, negotiation skills. Firearms training; weapon handling, shooting and 4x4 vehicle driving training amongst a host of training modules.
The South African Police Service commends members for upholding the SAPS code of conduct but most importantly, for putting their country first during the duration of their deployment in both countries.