'Cops must protect themselves'

2009-09-29 13:25

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday expressed his support for an amendment to the law to strengthen the hand of policemen in dealing with violent criminals.

"If you take a gun out to me that intent is more than clear, the next thing the criminal is going to shoot at me. That intent is very clear," he told around a thousand police officers in Pretoria.

Zuma said if police were expert marksmen they might be able to shoot at the criminal's hand when they brandished their weapons.

"But in that spur of the moment... where will you have time to look for the hand?

"My thinking is once a criminal takes out their gun the intent is clear... police must then act to protect themselves and the innocents."

Criminal Procedure Act

Earlier this month Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the amendment to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which will give police more power in dealing with violent and dangerous criminals, was close to finalisation and would be brought before Parliament soon.

Zuma said the duty of police was to protect all people but when their lives and the lives of innocent people were threatened, they had no choice but to use force.

He added that this was not intended to encourage a culture of trigger-happy police officers.

Zuma asked whether police, when faced with criminals brandishing weapons, still had to fire a warning shot.

"Am I right?" he said and police responded in the affirmative.

He then quipped: "Are the criminals having that rule?"

"Once a criminal takes out a gun, they shoot and once police try firing a warning shot, they are dead.

'Criminals don't take an oath to do warning shots'

"That's the reality," Zuma said.

He added : "Criminals don't take an oath to do warning shots or whatever."

The amendment to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act has raised concerns that police may use deadly force when not necessary.

Zuma sought to make police understand the responsibilities and that the amendment would only apply when dealing with violent and dangerous criminals.

He told police that they carried an enormous responsibility and that they were not "a police service" rather a "police force".

"It's far beyond just services. It's a serious matter.

"The police force is the eyes, ears and shield of the nation," he said.

Crime statistics

He said the crime statistics released by Mthethwa earlier this month were a reminder that more work was needed to make a dent in the number of house and business robberies as well as hijackings.

"These crimes evoke insecurity... as in most cases the victims are murdered or permanently maimed. They are left with lifelong scars.

"If these things are happening we are dealing with citizens feeling insecure," he said.

Zuma added that the economy could improve but if people were afraid of being killed these gains would not be important.

"I think the safety of our people is very, very important," he said.

He told police that government would do everything in its power to help reduce the dangers that affected them.

"Our hearts go out to the families of the men and women who have lost their lives," he said describing the work the police do as being "fraught with danger".

Zuma was speaking at the Voortrekker Monument where he was meeting station commanders to discuss "how to take forward the fight against crime".

  • NvV - 2009-09-29 13:39

    Define Criminal. Usually the court decides on guild or not. My understanding is that many innocent victims are sometimes seen and treated as criminals by law enforcers. Will this new power be abused as well? First install discipline and respect into the law enforcers then make them judges of crime.

  • Shan - 2009-09-29 13:40

    I give credit to Zuma for giving the cops more power, this was a long time coming. Still allot more work to do though.

  • OceanRush - 2009-09-29 13:41

    It is a brilliant idea ... but aren't they starting on the wrong end?? You can't give incompetent officers license to shoot first & ask questions later! This is a little to general maybe - but I have seen some SAPS officers with the IQ of a brown bread & very very little pride & knowledge of what they are doing!

  • Sudhir - 2009-09-29 13:44

    Bring Back the death penalty...then we on track, cos the prisons are filling up with people who don't give a damn in this world

  • Bruce - 2009-09-29 13:47

    Suddenly I like JZ

  • Glock 22 c - 2009-09-29 13:52

    Please pass this bill ASAP.Section 49 applies to citizen's as well. Give us more shooting power...

  • ross - 2009-09-29 13:57

    As a non-Zuma supporter - Well done Mr. President - this is the words the nation wants to hear!

  • Sgt Major - 2009-09-29 14:00

    and while you are at it Prez...disband the useless ICD. How can you a body that scrutinize every action taken by police and still you want police to shoot and kill tsotsie. Or since you have stated your reasoning (not in so many words) why you want you support the shoot and kill thing, could you also give us gun owners the same powers...coz SAPS reaction time in not on par. Might want to defend myself when there is an uninvited guest in my house...

  • Well done - 2009-09-29 14:18

    Well done JZ! I good step forward is admitting there is a problem! Hopefully the plan to be implemented works, but the problem is at a lower level. Prevention is better. The mentality of majority of SA's is distorted and needs to be corrected. Many believe that steeling, raping and murdering is ok. It will take decades to route this out, but in the mean time crime must be reduced rapidly and in parallel govenment implement some social change to induce some "cure" to this inhumane mentality

  • brian - 2009-09-29 14:19


  • 6SAI - 2009-09-29 14:26

    Nice one JZ, you also need to make example of the corrupt and criminally minded cops, and it looks like these number are quite high.

  • DeeVo - 2009-09-29 14:53

    big up 2 prez JayZee.

  • condy - 2009-09-29 16:30

    Brilliant idea Mr President. innocent police officers r loosing their life because the law doesn't allow them to shoot to kill while on dangerous situation. Criminals need to know that there will be no symphaty for them if the threaten the lives of officials who r protecting the citizens.

  • Mikem - 2009-09-29 17:33

    All the do-gooders who wring their hands over the shooting of armed threatening criminals should be required to serve in the police for a year, if they survive.

  • Bit-chi - 2009-09-30 08:46

    Good idea but judging how the police themselves are involved in crime syndicates, I feel it to be risky giving a "lawful criminal" the right to shoot, as they will "protect" their "unlawful activities" and shoot the good guys just to protect and "hide" their own activities. Citizens should get the same consideration to protect themselves because "Criminals don't take an oath to do warning shots or whatever." ..and.. "Once a criminal takes out a gun, they shoot and once police try firing a warning shot, they are dead." The latter counts for citizens too.

  • wolord - 2009-10-09 09:48

    I've been a been a victim of crime several times.One day they dragged me into a dark place while they already took all my belongings.The other one said to the other lets molest and kill him after and the other one said no while I was pressed by his knee firm on the ground.By Gods mercy someone apeared and they ran away."I fully suport Bheki Cele that criminals must be shot at"

  • Rob - 2009-10-13 10:58

    Shortly after the most recent Diepsloot riots, associates were helping to man a Farm Watch road block with police when one of the private individuals engaged in a conversation with a policeman (Black) who stated that when the riots first started they went there only to be confronted by a gathering mob who told the Police to leave or be harmed. The Police left only to return later to discover 4 dead bodies. When it was suggested to the Poiliceman that in a nearby white area there were some known bad elements that the white residents could do without and should the same thing happen where four blacks were killed in such a situation it would be a huge catastrophic political event that would put another nail in the coffin of whites in South Africa - the policeman replied that whites don`t know how to stand together and in any case the police would come down hard on them (the whites) because as he put it "whites know better." So there we have it, from the horses mouth, two sets of rules.

  • pages:
  • 1