Wednesday, September 30, 2009

South African President Zuma Tells Police to Shoot-to-Kill; Police Killings Exposed in Mpumalanga

JOHANNESBURG 29 September 2009 Sapa


President Jacob Zuma threatened criminals with a shoot-to-kill
policy on Tuesday, re-igniting the debate on the rights of criminals in a country where 50 people are murdered every day.

"Criminals don't take an oath to do warning shots," Zuma told
1000 police station commanders at the Voortrekker Monument in

"If you take a gun out to me, that intent is more than clear,
the next thing the criminal is going to shoot at me. That intent is very

"My thinking is once a criminal takes out their gun the intent
is clear... police must then act to protect themselves and the

Zuma expressed support for the amendment to Section 49 of the
Criminal Procedure Act that will give the police more lenience to shoot in dangerous situations.

"We have an abnormal criminal problem in South Africa. We must
therefore apply extraordinary measures," he said.

Zuma was accompanied by Police Chief Bheki Cele, Police Minister
Nathi Mthethwa, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Ministers in the
Presidency Trevor Manuel and Collins Chabane.

All nine provincial premiers and safety MECs also attended the
event, that started with an hour-long address by Zuma, after which he held private discussions with the station commanders.

Mthethwa said the issues discussed included possible changes to
the ranking system, a new appraisal system, better partnerships
with communities and improving the criminal justice system.

He said station commanders complained that criminals enjoyed too
many rights, and that the president said this needed to be debated.

"Too many rights for criminals... it's what we feel ourselves.
Many a provincial commissioner [has] raised an issue inside here about how they are failed the justice system," said Mthethwa.

"Here is a person who has a right like anybody... he has killed,
why do you still consider that person as a normal human being who has to enjoy rights like others? It's a debate that's ongoing."

Radebe said the amendment of the legislation would be in line
with the constitution.

"It will address the anxiety expressed by police and we also
believe it will pass the constitutional mast," said Radebe.

"We have prepared a draft which we have shared with the
department of the police and they are giving their comments."

The draft provided "one vision and one mission" for the entire
criminal justice system, as well as measurement targets for the system.

"You can't measure the performance of the police in isolation
from the conviction rate."

The reforms would also look at bail for repeat offenders and
whether criminals arrested a third time should be granted bail.

Radebe and Mthethwa assured citizens that South Africa was not
returning to a police state.

"These are the safeguards to protect ordinary citizens against
rampant criminals," Radebe said.

The meeting with station commanders comes a week after the
annual release of crime statistics which showed that about 50 people were murdered in South Africa a day, that business robberies were up 41.5 percent and house robberies 27.3 percent.

In his address to the hundreds of policemen and women, Zuma
first flattered them with words of praise but later lectured
officers on absenteeism and laziness.

"Absenteeism, laziness in the discharge of duties must be a
thing of the past... we must also seriously eradicate corruption within the police force....

"The legendary loss of dockets leading to botched cases should

Zuma said he had received lots of complaints from the public --
some of them through his presidential complaints hotline -- about the police hanging out at shopping centres and taverns in working hours.

South Africans were also complaining about the emergency number
10111 not being answered, or callers being told that no police vehicles were available.

"We must really work hard to turn the image of our police
stations around. Police stations must be the hope of our citizens,"
said Zuma.

A police captain, who asked not to be named, told Sapa after the
meeting that it was "fruitful and empowering" to talk to the

She also complained about flaws in the judicial system.

She said that often when the police arrested a criminal, courts
granted bail. It was the community's perception that the police had
released the criminal.

This led to the community losing trust in law enforcement

To win back confidence, there was a need to review laws
regulating the police and courts, so that the police would be able
to explain why a person was granted bail, other than saying, "it
was a matter for the court to decide".

"The meeting was an opportunity to highlight to the present
strained relationship between the community and the police," she said.

"It was not your usual ‘I'm-looking-forward to-work-with-you',
it was empowering."

JOHANNESBURG 30 September 2009 Sapa


Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday said he was not
aware of reports of policemen allegedly shooting dead a man and
injuring five others, including three children, during a service
delivery protest in Mpumalanga earlier this year.

"I can't talk about that specific matter. I'm not aware of
this," Mthethwa told SABC radio.

The Sowetan newspaper reported on Wednesday that police fired
rubber bullets during a protest at Mashishing township in June.

According to a lawyer representing the victims, Maditsi Mphela,
a three-year-old, Neo Khumalo, and a six-year-old, Mongezi Maila,
were allegedly shot in the face with rubber bullets.

"Once you do this, you have exceeded the bounds of
self-defence," said Mphela, adding that he was in the process of
suing the police for R10 million.

A man named Jacob Malakane was allegedly shot dead, while Marcus Masilela, 38, was reportedly wounded in the leg, Sfiso Nkosi was allegedly shot in the genitals and teenager Emily Madonsela
apparently shot in the cheek with live bullets.

It is not clear from the newspaper report whether Malakane,
Nkosi and Masilela were shot with live ammunition or rubber

The Sowetan published photos of the victims, one of them still
heavily bandaged after the alleged incidents, and interviewed some
of their family members who witnessed the alleged shootings.

Mthethwa was asked about this after President Jacob Zuma on
Tuesday expressed support for an amendment to the Criminal
Procedure Act to give the police more lenience to shoot criminals.

The minister said along with the amendment, the power of the
Independent Complaints Directorate would also be enhanced.

The police could not confirm the report in the Sowetan.

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