Police will cooperate with ICD investigation

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pretoria - Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, says the police will cooperate fully with the investigators of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) probing the circumstances that led to the death of Olga Kekana.

Kekana was allegedly shot at by police members in Mabopane, north of Pretoria, on Sunday, when she and her companions were mistaken for hijackers. She was apparently shot in the head.

Speaking during a visit to the Kekane family on Tuesday, where he expressed his condolences, Mthethwa urged the public not to arrive at unfounded conclusions before the ICD had an opportunity to finalise their investigations.

"We also urge the public not to arrive at any unfounded conclusions pending these investigations by creating claims that this incident is a direct result of government's proposed legislative changes to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act."

The amendments are aimed at strengthening the hand of police in dealing with serious violent crime and dangerous criminals.

"The police leadership has emphasized, and will continue to do so, that trigger happy members of the police must not think that this is a license to kill. It is a measure aimed specifically at serious violent crime and dangerous criminals, who place lives of both police officers and the public in danger," said the minister.

He further explained that these amendments were accompanied by the strengthening of the ICD, and that this would ensure that whatever approach government develops has built-in checks and balances to prevent abuse by police.

President Jacob Zuma, writing in the ruling party's weekly newsletter ANC Today, wrote last week that by amending Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, government was not encouraging a culture of trigger-happy police officers.

"Our country respects the right to life of all citizens. We expect our police officers to observe the law and respect the rights of innocent citizens, at all times.

"What we are saying is that police officers should place their own lives and those of innocent citizens first when confronted with situations of life and death," he said.

The President said government was invoking Section 49 to deal specifically with serious violent crime and dangerous criminals, adding that it is the duty of the police to protect all people against injury or loss of life.

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development spokesperson, Tladi Tladi has told BuaNews that government will not allow police to shoot innocent citizens and use the amendment of Section 49 as an excuse.

He added that the process of amending this section is not yet over, adding that it will be soon presented to the Cabinet and Parliament for approval before it becomes fully operational