Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma says that while police should us lethal force to defend themselves against criminals, they also need to respect the rights of innocent citizens.
"It is the duty of the police to protect all people against injury or loss of life. But when their lives or the lives of innocent civilians are threatened, police sometimes have no choice but to use lethal force to defend themselves and others.
"However, we expect our police officers to observe the law and respect the rights of innocent citizens, at all times," said the President at his official office at Tuynhuys on Thursday.
He pointed out a number if violent incidents which have occurred recently, including the cash in transit heists in Gauteng. Earlier this week police shot and killed six armed robbers during a foiled cash in transit heist in Pretoria.
"When we announced the appointment of a new Police Commissioner recently, we stated that dealing with cash in transit heists would be amongst our key focus areas," said Zuma.
Zuma said he had been shocked at the incident in Mitchells Plein in Cape Town, where Vincent Naidoo, a member of the street committee, was shot dead by gang members while manning an anti-crime vigil.
He described the event as "tragic" and "cruel".
"I phoned Emmerentia Nicholson of the street committee this morning and extended our condolences. I informed her that as government we support them in their work and that they should not step back at all. The criminals should not win," he said.
Minister in the Presidency responsible for National Planning and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Trevor Manuel, visited the Naidoo family on behalf of the Presidency last night. Zuma said he had been trying to get hold of Mrs Naidoo to extend his personal condolences.
In another incident, Reverend Monde Magojo, 41, of the Mount Frere Methodist Church, was shot and killed by hijackers while he was on his way to see his wife who was admitted in hospital.
He is believed to have picked up hitchhikers on his way who shot him. He later died in hospital.
"They killed him, robbing the nation of a dedicated community worker. Our hearts go out to all families who have lost their loved ones to crime," said Zuma.