Police kill over 100 suspects

2011-06-10 00:00

MORE than 140 crime suspects have been killed at the hands of police in the past three years in KwaZulu-Natal alone, the MEC for Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, told the KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Mchunu was responding to parliamentary questions directed at him by the Democratic Alliance’s KZN leader and spokesperson on safety and security, Sizwe Mchunu.

The MEC said the total number of suspects who died at the hands of the police in 2008/2009 was 60, compared with 30 deaths in 2009/2010 and 53 from 2010 to date.

A total of 143 people suspected of crimes have been killed either in shootouts with the police or while attempting to escape arrest.

These figures emerged in the wake of mounting complaints that members of the South African Police Force are trigger-happy and that they are being encouraged by the alleged “shoot-to-kill” statements of the national Police Commissioner, General Bheki Cele.

However, Cele has repeatedly denied having instructed police to shoot to kill, saying he only encourages members not to hesitate to use their government-issued firearms to defend themselves when criminals put their lives and those of members of the public in danger.

Mchunu said all the deaths at the hands of the police that were recorded in the province were as a result of shooting in these circumstances.

It was also revealed that 19 of 101 members of the police’s technical response team are being investigated on charges that include murder, aiding prisoners to escape, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Mchunu clarified aspects around the alleged misuse of blue lights by members of the legislature and senior department officials.

He said there is no maximum speed limit stipulated in the act covering when to use blue lights.

However, he added, “the peace officers driving the vehicle shall drive the vehicle concerned with due regard to the safety of other traffic”.

Except for “exceptional circumstances”, blue lights should not be used.

As to what transpires if a motorist refuses to move to one side when approached by a speeding blue light vehicle, he said: “If a motorist fails to give an immediate and absolute right of way to a vehicle sounding a device or bell or displaying an identification lamp, they are guilty of an offence in terms of the National Road Traffic Act of 1996.”

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