Cele warns over 'shoot to kill'

2010-12-23 13:30

Johannesburg - National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele used the fatal shooting of four alleged robbers in Kranskop and the shooting of a man sought in connection with the murder of two policeman, as an example of what will happen to people who shoot at police.

"May this be a warning to other potential criminals who dare to try and shoot at police, this will be the result. If people are wanted by the police, rather surrender agreeably," said Cele in a statement.

On Wednesday, four people were shot dead in Kranskop as police pursued a group believed to have robbed China Engineering in Kranskop. When police tried to stop them they opened fire and in the police's return fire, the four were shot dead, according to the police.

Also on Wednesday, one man was shot in the stomach as he allegedly tried to run away from police trying to stop him on the N1 south in Johannesburg. Police wanted to question him about the deaths of Warrant Officer Dzialwa Reuben Kundwani, 48, and Constable Letjeku Abel Thenga, 25.

Three other people in the car were taken into custody and police seized a number of firearms, including a police firearm allegedly in the possession of the man shot.

Cele praised the police involved in the two incidents for their "steadfast perseverance".

"... for putting their lives on the line and emerging from the gun battles, not only victorious, but more importantly for emerging unscathed."

He said police around the country should continue to apply pressure on criminals. "The message of these incidents is very clear, we will not take kindly to being shot at and police indeed have the necessary proficiency to deal with such violent situations effectively," said Cele.

Parliament is currently dealing with the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill in which Section 49 could be amended to reduce the restrictions on when a police officer may fire at a person.

According to a question submitted to Parliament, there were 367 incidents of fatal shootings by police between April 1 and December 31 last year.

Of those, 359 involved suspects where police officers acted in self-defence, while eight were innocent bystanders, according to the Independent Complaints Directorate statistics provided in the reply.

In September, Cele said police were not prepared to use "broomsticks and sjamboks" against people intent on killing policemen, further adding to fears of a "shoot to kill" policy by police.

Cele is currently suing the Sowetan newspaper for allegedly portraying him as a gun-toting cowboy-hat wearing outlaw.

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