Criminals 'don't do warning shots'

2009-09-29 22:12

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma threatened criminals with a shoot-to-kill policy on Tuesday, re-igniting the debate on the rights of criminals in a country where 50 people are murdered every day.

"Criminals don't take an oath to do warning shots," Zuma told 1 000 police station commanders at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.

"If you take a gun out [on] me, that intent is more than clear, the next thing the criminal is going to shoot at me. That intent is very clear.

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

Backing for amendment to crime law

Zuma expressed support for the amendment to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act that will give the police leeway to shoot in dangerous situations.

"We have an abnormal criminal problem in South Africa. We must therefore apply extraordinary measures," he said.

Zuma was accompanied by Police Chief Bheki Cele, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Ministers in the Presidency Trevor Manuel and Collins Chabane.

All nine provincial premiers and safety MECs also attended the event, that started with an hour-long address by Zuma, after which he held private discussions with the station commanders.

Mthethwa said station commanders complained that criminals enjoyed too many rights, and that the president said this needed to be debated.

Mthethwa said the issues discussed included possible changes to the ranking system, a new appraisal system, better partnerships with communities and improving the criminal justice system.


"Too many rights for criminals... it’s what we feel ourselves. Many a provincial commissioner [has] raised an issue inside here about how they are failed the justice system," said Mthethwa.

"Here is a person who has a right like anybody... he has killed, why do you still consider that person as a normal human being who has to enjoy rights like others? It's a debate that's ongoing."

Radebe said the amendment of the legislation would be in line with the Constitution.

"We have prepared a draft which we have shared with the department of the police and they are giving their comments."

The draft provided "one vision and one mission" for the entire criminal justice system, as well as measurement targets for the system.

"You can't measure the performance of the police in isolation from the conviction rate."

The reforms would also look at bail for repeat offenders and whether criminals arrested a third time should be granted bail.

Radebe and Mthethwa assured citizens that South Africa was not returning to a police state.

"These are the safeguards to protect ordinary citizens against rampant criminals," Radebe said.

Flaws in judicial system

A police captain, who asked not to be named, told Sapa after the meeting that it was "fruitful and empowering" to talk to the president.

She also complained about flaws in the judicial system.

She said that often when the police arrested a criminal, courts granted bail. It was the community's perception that the police had released the criminal.

To win back confidence, there was a need to review laws regulating the police and courts, so that the police would be able to explain why a person was granted bail, other than saying, "it was a matter for the court to decide".

"The meeting was an opportunity to highlight to the present strained relationship between the community and the police," she said.

  • richard - 2009-09-30 10:18

    Well Honestly even if many changes are made to our judicial system the Police service will still be pretty pathetic untill all stations sort out their internal politics. My Family are and were police officers and if most of the public knew what goes on in a police station regarding internal politics administration corruption, most people would run for the hills.

  • Ordinary Citizen - 2009-09-30 10:46

    Tough times call for tough measures - I say get rid of the criminal scum!!

  • Madchicken - 2009-09-30 15:25

    I think Zuma and Bheki Cele are doing fantastic jobs! Thank goodness they are sharing the views of the rest of South Africa. Now they just have to get the departments sorted out. The last time i went to report an accident at one of the police stations, the man in charge at the time kept asking me for my phone number. When I refused he took my cell phone and called himself and told me "now I have your number, I always wanted a white woman". Imagine if I went there to report a rape case! Luckily, the number was a temp one as my cell was stolen. So Ja, Its all and fine and well changing the law but now you have to implement the infrastructure to support it. Get rid of all your moronic, stupid corrupt officers who break the law and bring on the LAW enforcement. Get rid of criminal scum, including the scum in your own departments.

  • Amanda - 2009-09-30 15:26

    This sounds all promising, but words mean nothing without action. And before you give the police permission to shoot as they like, you must first get rid of all the bad apples in the police force. We willnever have a crime free country while our crimefighters are corrupt. Criminals should not be allowed the same rights as law abiding citizens, what is the incentive for abiding the law? One should take away their previliges and make them earn their stay in prison untill they pay their dept to society!!

  • Baber - 2009-09-30 15:55

    VIVA ZUMA!! A man with balls - from a boertjie

  • Ettiene - 2009-09-30 16:56

    I can't believe I am about to say this... but... Well said JZ... Just keep your word...

  • Lunga - 2009-09-30 18:05

    this will not be easy task for these officers.Let alone shooting a criminal to death. You people must stop videorising police with yr celphones when they are hush to criminals. Only the stupid officer will shoot to kill innocent. Real law enforcers do their job as prescribed by the book. Only one thing will suggest they must be vigilant and very careful about shooting. The gun was a last resort those days and you have to shoot to arrest. But in a threatining situation wqhere lives are in danger you the crimiinal to death so... Now if the president says shoot to kill he must train law enforcers first not social workers. Law enforcement is not going back but giving our sons and daughters power to do their jobs. Kindly give them what they need and you will see the place of the criminals. No to presidential pardon but people should serve not sit and watch tv in jail. jail must be jail not holiday resort. I donot watch dstv but the prisoners do. My fellow brothers and sisters just think about the rights these people enjoy and we lock our gates and fit alarms and cctv many more devices to feel safe in our homes why??????????????

  • DICTATOR - 2009-09-30 22:22

    I keep hearing about tougher action against criminals, but all I am seeing is more and more criminals out in full force. So either the police have no idea what they are doing or Cele is all talk and no action. More crimes seem to be taking place. So Cele if you say you want tougher action, the DO SOMETHING already!!!!!

  • NamRon - 2009-09-30 22:24

    I agree with these guys, but I don't see any action actually being taken. This talk from Zuma and Cele sounds like a smoke-screen. They need to stop talking and IMPLEMENT this new system.

  • MR CHARLES CHAUKE - 2009-10-02 07:21



  • cola - 2009-10-13 20:22

    Zuma and Cele youre great but what i dont understand every day people get killed they just talk and do nothing they more worried about smoking education all the right things is wrong and the wrong things write z and cele show the world you can make a different proof every bodywrong i must tell you since 1994 are you the best president and the next president must be cele

  • Ed Golding - 2009-10-23 12:48

    If you want to sort things out, then start at the top - then the courts - then the police!
    Maybe we'll have to resort to taking the law into own hands soon.(Yes!what law you ask???) - Watch this space.

  • Doc Phill - 2009-10-23 12:52

    We should lesson privaleges for the crimanals , as they just get a way with a lot and where is the protection in tha that

  • danie scholtz - 2009-10-27 12:23

    stop critising cops for doing there jobs and stop taking pictures when a cop deals with a criminal ,the criminal has no rights

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