Po­lice do not have a li­cence to kill – Zuma

Long his­tory of shoot­ings

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - POLITICS - CAIPHUS KGOSANA

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma has warned that po­lice don’t have a li­cence to killm while the sec­re­tary of po­lice pointed out that po­lice killings of civil­ians had been on the in­crease be­fore the shoot-to-kill con­tro­versy.

Af­ter do­ing dam­age con­trol in Par­lia­ment on Thurs­day, Zuma is­sued a strongly worded state­ment yes­ter­day that shoot-to-kill was nei­ther le­gal nor gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

“No po­lice of­fi­cer has the per­mis­sion to shoot sus­pects in cir­cum­stances other than those pro­vided for by law. The law does not give the po­lice a li­cence to kill,” he said.

Deputy Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula said civil­ian deaths were in­evitable dur­ing crime op­er­a­tions. He un­com­pro­mis­ingly re­peated his rad­i­cal state­ment in­clud­ing “yes, shoot the bas­tard, hard-nut to crack, in­cor­ri­gi­ble crim­i­nals”.

But the pres­i­dent em­pha­sised that Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa has out­lined a com­pre­hen­sive and ef­fec­tive crime strat­egy.

“Our gov­ern­ment wants to re­duce se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crimes by the set tar­get of 7% to 10% per an­num… it is trag­i­cally mis­lead­ing to re­duce our strat­egy and ac­tiv­i­ties to the amend­ment of a sec­tion of one law,” he said.

Zuma did not to­tally rule out the use of deadly force.

“It is the duty of the po­lice to pro­tect all peo­ple against in­jury or loss of life. But when their lives or the lives of in­no­cent civil­ians are threat­ened, po­lice some­times have no choice but to use lethal force.”

Jenny Ir­ish-Qho­bosheane, the civil­ian po­lice sec­re­tary in charge of pol­icy in SAPS, said the po­lice min­istry had noted an in­crease in in­ci­dents of po­lice shoot­ings of civil­ians over the past three years.

“Over the last three years the min­istry has no­ticed an in­creased num­ber of shoot­ings of civil­ians by po­lice of­fi­cers. I don’t think you can at­tribute those to what is be­ing printed sen­sa­tion­ally in the me­dia,” she said.

She was speak­ing at the se­cu­rity clus­ter brief­ing in par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

Fig­ures con­tained in the an­nual re­port of the po­lice watch­dog the In­de­pen­dent Com­plaints Direc­torate, show that 612 peo­ple died as a re­sult of po­lice action in 2008/09. This is a 25 per­cent in­crease from the 490 peo­ple who were killed by po­lice in the pre­vi­ous year.

Of the 612 peo­ple who died, 12 were in­no­cent by­standers, up from only four in 2007/08.

There has been an up­roar over the in­ci­dents of the killing of civil­ians by po­lice of­fi­cers.

This in­cludes the killing of three-year-old Atle­gang Aphane who was shot by po­lice who ap­par­ently mis­took a pipe he was car­ry­ing for a gun and the killing of Olga Kekana, a Pre­to­ria hair­dresser, who was killed when po­lice shot at a car she was trav­el­ling in. The po­lice ap­par­ently mis­took the car for one that was re­ported hi­jacked in the area.

Mean­while, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jeff Radebe told the par­lia­men­tary me­dia brief­ing the re­view of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, which was meant to oil the state’s crime fight­ing and pros­e­cu­tions ma­chin­ery, was on track.

He said a seven point plan on how to move for­ward with the re­view would be pre­sented to the cab­i­net in due course.

There have been con­cerns in some quar­ters that the re­view had stalled since the new ad­min­is­tra­tion took over.

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