Zuma supports amendment to strengthen hand of police

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has expressed his support for an amendment to the law to strengthen the hand of police in dealing with violent criminals.

"We intend to finalise amendments to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, with a view to taking the amendments to Parliament soon," Zuma said on Tuesday.

He said this measure was aimed specifically at dealing with serious violent crime and dangerous criminals.

Zuma said government will do all in its power to assist the Ministry and the National Commissioner in their efforts to reduce the impact of the dangers that face the police service.

"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, the President warned that government is not encouraging the culture of trigger-happy police officials, highlighting that the country respects the right of life of all citizens.

"We expect our police officers to observe the law and respect the rights of innocent citizens, at all times," he said.

Alongside the proposed amendment to Section 49, government is also in the process of strengthening the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).

Zuma said the strengthening of this directorate is an important measure to ensure that changes to Section 49 are not abused, adding that legislation to this effect will be introduced in due course.

He further added that although crime statistics released recently indicate that progress has been made, there still remain challenges.

"The figures demonstrate considerable progress that we have recorded in bringing down the level of certain types of crime, notably in five of the seven contact crimes as well as in other forms of aggravated robbery.

"But most significantly, the statistics remind us that we must work harder to dent the three problematic categories of crime - house and business robberies as well as hijacking," he said during his meeting with police station commanders.