Pretoria - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the recent crime statistics have highlighted the need for police to adopt a vigorous approach against criminals including changing the law to give police officers more power.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, a clearly irritated Mthethwa lashed out at those who criticised the amendments to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act and labeled the critics "sensationalists" who "formulated the slogan shoot to kill".
"The amendment is not intended to allow for trigger-happy police officers. The ongoing assertions that the recent shooting incidents of innocent civilians are caused by police recklessness cannot be concluded by media courts.
"We need to point out that many in our society, including the media, have sensationalised this issue. There has been a general failure to recognise that the use of deadly force already applies in the current section," Mthethwa said.
President Jacob Zuma on Friday reiterated that no police officer has permission to shoot suspects in circumstances other than those provided for by law. The Criminal Procedure Act deals with the use of force in effecting arrest.
Mthethwa said it needed to be made clear that the amendment focused on the ability of the police to deal with violent criminals who placed the lives of both police officers and the public in danger.
The minister said the changes will leave police in a situation where they will be less open to uncertainty when applying force.
It should also be noted that the amendment to Section 49 was part of a broader strategy to fight crime, said Mthethwa.