We don’t need trigger-happy cops

2009-09-26 12:25

SOUTH Africa’s appalling crime rate was in the spotlight again this week with the ­release of the latest crime ­statistics.

According to the statistics, 50 people are murdered every day, a figure that is nearly eight times higher than the world ­average. This even though the murder rate had declined over the 2008/09 financial year by 3% to 18?148.

Among the areas registering an increase is a 10% rise in sexual offences and a 27.3% increase in residential robberies.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa blames the crime rate on “the high number of firearms among civilians, greed, the psychology of patriarchal power relations and attitudes towards vulnerable members of society, especially children”.

He may well be right. However, the push for amending Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act in order to give police wider powers to shoot at criminals is not the solution.

The SAPS annual report, also released this week, shows that legal claims against the police are as high as R7.5?billion, this year’s alone amounting to R3.2?billion.

Most of these cases are for “police action” that includes wrongful arrest (R4.631?billion), shooting (R426?million) and assault (R380?million), which shows clearly that a trigger-happy police force is the last thing we need.

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