Cele: I didn't say shoot to kill
Mbombela - Suspended national police boss General Bheki Cele has denied telling police officers to "shoot to kill".
Cele, who was at Matsulu outside Mbombela a few hours before President Jacob Zuma announced his suspension on Monday, was speaking with police at the launch of the Festive Season Duty Calls campaign.
"I want to tackle this issue that makes me infamous; I never said police must shoot to kill," said Cele.
"You media must listen to me now. This is what I said: If a member of the police is called to a dangerous situation to protect the public and, in that situation, somebody makes his work of arresting criminals difficult to the extent that somebody must lose his/her life, that must not be a member of the South African police who loses his/her life.
"The police must always win.
"If that is called shoot to kill, I'm sure that I'm not an English speaker. And we have to understand that those criminals are not carrying brooms but carrying serious stuff, and you police must use your serious stuff that we gave you,” said Cele.
The now suspended commissioner said he was tired of burying police officers who were deliberately killed.
"I have seen enough police killings and now I'm saying to you officers, protect the nation, protect one another and mostly protect yourself as an officer,” he said.
Cele dedicated this year's Festive Season Duty Calls campaign to the protection of children.
"As you are going to protect the whole public this festive season, please, I'm asking you as parents to protect children. As for the parents whose children are being raped and killed, please take extra care and protect your children.
"They are young and defenceless and the only thing they have is trust in you as the police, so please don't betray them," said Cele.
He said children were being targeted by criminals.
"I was ashamed by the recent murder and rape of children as young as one. In North West a mother killed her five children just because she had an argument with their father. What happened to parents?
"From what I know is that children have to find safety from their parents and relatives, but now things have changed. Who do you want them to run to?
"Where does it start for an old man to rape a 2-year-old?” said Cele.
Cele also interacted with children from Little Angels pre-school in Matsulu.
Most of the children told General Cele that all they want is for criminals to be arrested.
Cele assured the children that he would pass the message on to the police.
"These children say you must arrest criminals and drug dealers. They also say they want to live in a crime-free environment. So, that is your job this festive and please do it for them,” said Cele.