2009-10-11: 'Shoot to kill' cops gun down innocent

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2009-10-11: 'Shoot to kill' cops gun down innocent

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2009-11-16 09:19


'Shoot to kill' cops gun down innocent

Police shoot dead woman in a car mistaken for one driven by hijack suspects

Oct 11, 2009 11:20 PM | By NKOSANA LEKOTJOLO


Police have shot and killed an innocent woman, claiming she was
driving a car similar to one driven by hijackers and that the vehicle
failed to stop when instructed to do so.

The woman was killed and two other people were injured in Mabopane,
north of Pretoria, when police opened fire on their car yesterday.

Police spokeswoman Captain Julia Claassen said members of the Pretoria
flying squad had been on the look-out for a hijacked grey Toyota
Conquest when they spotted a car fitting the description.

"The police put out their blue lights for the driver to stop, but he
didn't, so police fired shots," said Claassen.

The 28-year-old female passenger died and two other passengers, a
woman and a man, were injured.

The driver was not injured. "[The vehicle] fitted the description. The
police allegedly tried to stop the car, but it didn't stop."

Police didn't have the hijacked vehicle's registration number at the time.

No arrests had been made, but seven members of the police have been implicated.

The shooting comes in the wake of calls by President Jacob Zuma and
other high-profile government leaders for the amendment of Section 49
of the Criminal Procedure Act which will allow police to open fire on
"dangerous" criminals without warning.

Deputy Safety and Security Minister Susan Shabangu said earlier this
year: "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."

Her remarks have since been echoed by Zuma, who recently told a
meeting of police station commanders that the police needed more
powers to shoot criminals who threatened their lives.

On Friday, Zuma said in the ANC's newsletter that: "we are not
encouraging a culture of trigger-happy police officers. Our country
respects the right to life of all citizens. We expect our police
officers to observe the law and respect the rights of innocent
citizens, at all times."

But the reaction has been that police have not followed these
guidelines - and that the law that would allow police to open fire on
suspects is yet to be amended.

Deputy national police commissioner Magda Stander told The Times
yesterday that she was "shocked" that the police shot at an innocent
member of the public without proper information.

"The law must take its course against those police in this matter. The
statement by the president and the police commissioner does not mean
to be trigger-happy. The police are supposed to secure the public,"
said Stander.

She sent condolences to the family of the deceased, whom she will
visit this week.

Stander said she was waiting on investigations by the Independent
Complaints Directorate and the full report from the police about what
really happened.

But experts were not entirely surprised, saying police were not sure
of their orders.

Adele Kirsten, executive director of the Centre for the Study of
Violence and Reconciliation, said yesterday's shooting was "a
consequence" of the confusing statements made to the police about
shooting to kill.

"This shooting of innocent people is the consequence of confusion
among police officers regarding their [directive]. The minister [of
police, Nathi Mthethwa] cannot go outside the law and tell the police
to shoot to kill; the officers must know what the law says. Until such
time that Section 49 is amended, police officers are only allowed to
shoot when their lives and those around them are in danger," said

Frans Cronje, deputy chief executive of the SA Institute of Race
Relations, agreed, saying the shooting was a direct result of the
"ambiguous" messages from politicians.

"Let us see if the police commissioner, Bheki Cele, will now protect
those police officers, or if he will now do a turnaround on them. The
result of this shooting boils down to the poor training and lack of
discipline in the police force," said Cronje.

Democratic Alliance spokeswoman on the police, Dianne Kohler-Barnard,
said the incident was "horrendous".

"What danger did these people poise to the police? Did they point a
gun at the police? What the minister [Mthethwa] has sown, the citizens
are reaping. He has fired up a whole talk of kill, kill, kill and a
civilian has died - and who is to blame?"

Complaints Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said the directorate
would investigate and that a docket of murder and three of attempted
murder have been opened.

"Eight firearms were confiscated from the members involved," he said.

Both Mthethwa and Zuma's spokesmen were unavailable for comment. -
Additional reporting by Sipho Masondo and Sapa
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