“This is a sore that can never be healed,” he told the National Press Club in Pretoria on Friday.
Police leaders held a summit to address police killings on July 8.
Some of the resolutions adopted at the summit included an “Adopt-a-Cop” campaign; establishing a multi-disciplinary committee to co-ordinate the well-being of police officers; reviewing the 2000 ministerial task team findings; ensuring support for the family members of murdered officers and improving officer training.
Mthethwa urged police officers to be vigilant and responsible as most of the slain officers had been killed while responding to crimes in progress such as armed robberies.
“What we need to do is to have continuous training for the police and continuous vigilance from the officers.
“We think the time we give to police training is not enough…we need to give more.”
He said the recent emphasis on the killing of police officers did not place their deaths above those of ordinary citizens killed by criminals, but the number of police murders “has to worry any South African.
“There are things (in the police force) that are weaknesses and we have to address these.”
He believed crime was slowly decreasing and was confident that the next set of annual crime statistics would show a decline.
This contrasted with the situation a few years ago when police considered calling in the army to deal with cash-in-transit heists because they were being outgunned.
He did not believe the tough stance against criminals had made them more desperate and therefore prepared to shoot to escape.
Mthethwa declined to discuss Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s reports into two controversial building leases, which found that the National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele’s actions had been unlawful, improper and amounted to maladministration.
The first report was released in February while the second was released earlier this month- SAPA