2009-11-13 13:02Cape Town – The shooting of civilians by the police started at least three years ago and cannot be attributed to recent “sensational” media reports, the secretary of police said in Cape Town on Friday.
Jenny Irish-Quobosheane, the public’s representative in the police department, told journalists in Parliament the ministry had noticed an increased number of shootings of civilians by police officers in the past three years.
“Those shooting haven’t just started in last couple of months,” she said.
“Over the last three years the ministry has noticed an increased number of shootings of civilians by police officers. So I don’t think you can attribute those to what is being printed quite sensationally in the media.”
Reports of civilians being shot dead increased sharply since government ministers told the police they should take a tougher line on criminals. In a recent case, a police constable was arrested for allegedly shooting dead a three-year-old Atlegang Aphane in Midrand. The constable had apparently mistaken a metal pipe the child was holding for a gun.
In a speech on Thursday, Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said it was unavoidable for civilians to die in the crossfire between police and criminals.
“In the course of any duty the innocent will be victimised,” Mbalula told reporters in Parliament.
“In this particular situation where you are caught in combat with criminals, innocent people are going to die not deliberately, but in the exchange of fire. They are going to be caught on the wrong side, not deliberately, but unavoidably.
“Yes. Shoot the bastards. Hard-nut to crack, incorrigible criminals.”