2007-12-13: Public backs cops' shoot-to-kill action

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2007-12-13: Public backs cops' shoot-to-kill action

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2008-01-09 13:04

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 315C174726

Public backs cops' shoot-to-kill action
Ayanda Mhlongo
December 13 2007 at 12:50PM

South Africans, sick of crime, have praised the police for using deadly force in two incidents in Gauteng that have left 14 armed criminals dead and cost the life of one police officer.

On Wednesday, the KwaZulu-Natal Minister of Safety and Security, Bheki Cele, commended police for their swift action in pouncing on the cash heist suspects as they blazed away at a security van transporting money.

On Tuesday, police in Hammanskraal gunned down 11 heavily armed robbers and wounded another during a cash-in-transit heist on the R101 outside Pretoria.

The police's tough action has received much praise from top police brass, politicians and members of public across the country. The incident made national headlines and was described as one of the bloodiest shootouts yet.

'I was very impressed by the action of the police officers'

On Wednesday night, nearly 20 000 people gave their overwhelming support - via an e.tv news SMS poll - to maximum force used by police in Pretoria and Yeoville.

The use of maximum force against criminals was supported by 99,4 percent of those who responded. Only 0,6 percent said no.

In the Pretoria incident, police - through their intelligence network - had apparently been tipped off that a Coin security van would be attacked by a gang.

Police were called into action again on Wednesday, where they shot and killed three suspects in Yeoville, Johannesburg, after a routine police patrol spotted the occupants of a car behaving suspiciously.

At first the car raced away but later stopped and when the vehicle was approached by a police officer the occupants opened fire, shooting him in the neck. He died at the scene. Other officers then returned fire, killing the three gunmen in the car.
'They must know that police are going to use maximum force'

Police then swooped on seven suspects, all believed to be illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, who were part of the Yeoville gang.

Speaking to the Daily News on Wednesday, Cele praised the officers for their work in foiling the heist.

"I was very impressed by the action of the police officers in Hammanskraal. This is something that all police around the country should do," he said.

Earlier this year, Cele, angry at the number of police officers who were dying in the province, urged his cops to shoot to kill.

"Those guys (criminals) were well-armed and when they left their homes in the morning, they had one intention and that was to kill before making off with the money.

"With that attitude, police cannot stand back if they are under attack. They must defend themselves and the public," he said.

While his shoot-to-kill statement may have been seen to be controversial by some, many people have supported it.

He said he hoped that the latest incident would send a strong message to criminals that police were not going to sit back any longer.

"They must know that police are going to use maximum force. They (police) must fight fire with fire," he said.

Cele also said he was pleased that the public was beginning to understand why police had to act in this way.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's safety and security spokesperson, Velaphi Ndlovu, said his party welcomed the speedy and tough action that was taken by police.

"This operation showed that police will use maximum force to stop such ruthless attacks and we congratulate the brave police officers for putting their lives at risk to stop this large gang of armed thugs.

"Furthermore, we are pleased that the police were not hesitant to fight fire with fire, because, clearly, this is the only language that hardened criminals understand."

He said the IFP hoped the incidents would send out a loud and clear message that criminal activity will no longer be tolerated and that South Africans will not allow thugs to bully and victimise the country.

Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, also praised police.

"Everyone, including the police, is tired of crime - especially serious and violent crimes," he said.

Burger said there has been a growing feeling of hopelessness among people, who felt strongly that criminals were free to do what they like. "Police did not seem to be able to tackle these gangs, they seemed to be weak," he said.

But the few incidents in the past couple of weeks, said Burger, has shown a change in police attitude and thus their actions.

"Police appear to be strong and well informed in terms of intelligence now. They have also been strengthened psychologically because they have political and public support."

This article was originally published on page 3 of Daily News on December 13, 2007
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