Cele takes a jab at media on "shoot-to-kill" statement

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pretoria - National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele has taken a jab at media around the so-called "shoot-to-kill" statement.

"You (media) are just sensationalising this issue. President Jacob Zuma has never mentioned the "shoot-to-kill" statement in his speeches on crime as you are reporting," he told media on Thursday.

Cele reiterated that there was no policy in place that calls for police to "shoot-to-kill".

He however added that police had been encouraged to use deadly force when facing dangerous criminals.

"Let's put things in the right context. We said police must decisively defend themselves and members of the public at the hands of armed and dangerous criminals.

"In the case of cash in-transit heists, organised robbery and hijacking, criminals are always fully armed and shoot whoever is in their way, therefore in such situation, police must use deadly force," he said.

He however said that in a case where a police officer shoots an innocent citizen, it would be regarded as pure criminality, adding that government and the South African Police Services (SAPS) management will not harbor police who infringe on the rights of innocent citizens.

Cele was addressing the media on Thursday where he announced the appointments of provincial police commissioners in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

His sentiments follow an appeal from various political parities and some civil organisations that government must recall the so-called "shoot-to-kill" statement following a series of incidents where police had allegedly shot innocent people.

The Commissioner maintained that government would never encourage police to kill innocent citizens, adding that police who deviated from the law would be arrested, prosecuted and sentenced like any other citizen.

He said the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) was investigating all the allegations against those members who were alleged to have deviated from the law, adding that in the past two years more than 1300 SAPS members had been arrested and 50 percent were serving their sentences.

Meanwhile, government is in the process of amending Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act to strengthen the fight against serious and violent crimes and also to give more teeth to the lCD to rigorously monitor police. .

In his recent meeting with the SAPS leadership, President Zuma warned that by amending Section 49, government was not encouraging the culture of "trigger-happy police officials", highlighting that the country respects the right of life of all citizens.

Both President Zuma and Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa have repeatedly pointed out that the strengthening of the directorate was an important measure to ensure that changes to Section 49 are not abused.