2008-04-22 : Right to Shoot

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2008-04-22 : Right to Shoot

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 11:40

Deputy safety and security minister Susan Shabangu has said that ordinary
citizens of South Africa who are threatened by criminals pointing guns or
other lethal weapons at them do not have to fire a warning shot before
shooting to kill.

After her controversial statement that police must "kill the bastards" if
criminals threatened them or the community, she said there was a public
misconception in the country that ordinary citizens who were under threat
from criminals pointing lethal weapons at them had to fire a warning shot
before shooting to kill.

"There is no law like this. This is a misconception. A criminal points a gun
at you, and as an ordinary citizen you have a legalised firearm. He is
pointing a gun at you. How do you fire a warning shot?" she asked.

"Let's not be academic about crime. How do you fire a warning shot when you
are staring at the barrel of a gun?"

Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which governs the use of lethal
force when dealing with criminals, made it clear that police and ordinary
citizens were entitled to shoot if their lives were threatened, she said in
Cape Town.

Shabangu was lauded by many South Africans angered by the soaring crime
rate, but came under fire from political parties and human rights groups
after telling an anti-crime meeting in Pretoria that if police felt
threatened by criminals, they should shoot to kill.

"You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or the community. You must
not worry about the regulations. That is my responsibility. Your
responsibility is to serve and protect. I want no warning shots. You have
one shot and it must be a kill shot," she said.

No one had told her to tone down her future speeches, Shabangu said,
although some people such as Jody Kollapen, the chairman the South African
Human Rights Commission, had criticised her.

Laughing off her choice of the word "bastards" to describe the criminals
responsible for the violent crime wave sweeping the country, she said that
part of her speech had not been scripted. But in her search for the right
way to express herself, she had succeeded in getting across her message.

"Jody Kollapen said I was misbehaving as if he is reprimanding his little
girl. He can say whatever he wants. If he is part of this country, he cannot
continue to deal with human rights without putting them into a proper
perspective. If Jody Kollapen has a problem, he must come and see the
victims of crime. He must listen to them. They are walking zombies. They are
dead. They lose their self-esteem.

"And then he must come and tell us what the solution is for these problems.
This goes for the opposition, too. As the deputy minister, I am not going to
play to the gallery. I will listen to the people of South Africa, and make
sure that within the ambit of the law, we respond to the challenges of this
country in a way that will make men, women and children feel safe."

On why police routinely opened murder dockets against citizens who killed
criminals who had threatened them with guns or other lethal weapons,
Shabangu said there had to be an inquiry into the process.

However, the present processes that involved opening of murder dockets
against ordinary citizens who had been defending themselves against
criminals might need reviewing, she said.

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Mercury
<http://www.themercury.co.za> on April 22, 2008
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