"Why must police die with their guns in their pockets?"
This is how KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Bheki Cele, responded yesterday to news that 22 police officers were killed while on duty in the province.
However, he is optimistic that the killings will be reduced after national minister of safety and security Nathi Mthethwa said laws regarding the police defending themselves must be revisited.
"Definitely laws regarding police defending themselves have to be revised because criminals are targeting them.
"People must not think that we want them to be trigger-happy and just kill people. All we are saying is that something has to be done to curb the deaths of our members ," said Cele.
At least eight criminal suspects have been gunned down by police since Cele and national Deputy Minister Susan Shabangu's "shoot to kill" order which raised concerns from the public.
Those killed include 28-year-old Lee Buthelezi, Magojela Ndimande and Sibusiso Thokozani Tembe.
All three were linked to the murder of super cop Zethembe Chonco.
Cele's comments came after KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Hamilton Ngidi confirmed the number of police officers killed on duty last year.
Addressing the media in Durban yesterday, Ngidi said two of the 22 policemen killed were senior officers," said Ngidi.
"It is the first time that so many of our members lost their lives in the line of duty.
"More distressing is the fact that we lost two senior officers in a single year in Superintendent Zethembe Chonco and Superintendent Frans Bothma.
"But I must say that this did not deter us from doing our job with excellence."
Ngidi said KwaZulu-Natal experienced one of the most peaceful festive seasons. He attributed it to joint planning by the SAPS, Metro Police and Road Traffic Inspectorate.
With the national general elections approaching, Ngidi assured the people of KwaZulu-Natal that police will work tirelessly to ensure that they run smoothly.