chapter  2
Remembering the police
Pages 33

In Pretoria, tucked away to the left of the Union Buildings, stands a memorial honouring police officers who died on duty. It is a forlorn place, unnoticed by most of the tourists who tend to favour the terraced gardens below the seat of the South African government, where they take pictures of each other in front of the statue of Jan Smuts. One could almost say the police memorial, with its back to the city, inward-looking, amphitheatre-like layout and its three wind-bent palms serving as a lonely guard of honour, does not want to draw people’s attention. The polished granite structure forms a three-quarter circle around seven

square pillars connected at the top by a horizontal bar forming a kind of arch. Several huge bronze plaques are attached to the granite walls, on which are long lists of the names bearing the rank, staff number and date of death of police officers. The memorial, constructed in 1983, was officially unveiled on 17 October 1984. The moment is commemorated by a central plaque carrying the name of the prime minister of the time, P. W. Botha. The memorial’s function as ‘Roll of Honour’ is inscribed in Afrikaans and English. Every May a ceremony takes place here, for police officers by police officers.

It is a memorial service under the guidance of the Spiritual Services section of the South African Police Service (SAPS), held to honour those who died while on policing duty. It is attended by family and friends of those who