PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has joined the call by his cabinet ministers for police to fight criminals with fire.
Addressing more than 1000 station commissioners at Thaba Tshwane in Pretoria yesterday, Zuma said police should not hesitate to shoot criminals who draw guns when cornered.
"Criminals don't take an oath to do warning shots," Zuma told the police heads.
"If you take a gun out to me, that intent is more than clear, the next thing the criminal is going to do is shoot at me. That intent is very clear."
Zuma expressed support for the amendment of Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act that will give the police more lenience to shoot in dangerous situations.
"We have an abnormal criminal problem in South Africa. We must therefore apply extraordinary measures," he said.
Zuma also said the state needed to tighten the laws to ensure dangerous criminals did not get bail.
Zuma's call follows recent statements by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his deputy Fikile Mbalula that the police must "shoot to kill" when confronted by armed criminals.
Mthethwa also wants the Criminal Procedure Act, which governs police use of lethal force, to be amended.
Yesterday Justice Minister Jeff Radebe confirmed that the government had drafted amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act to bring about "radical reforms to fight against crime".
Zuma said the recent crime statistics - which showed that more than 50 people are murdered in South Africa every day - were a reminder that more work still needed to be done.
He said cash-in-transit heists, rapes, car hijacking and house break-ins were also still a concern.
Mthethwa also said the station commissioners had complained that criminals had more rights than policemen and women.
Radebe said the granting of bail would be reviewed to ensure that repeat offenders do not get bail.
Zuma went on to warn the police that his government would not tolerate any incompetence in the force.
Zuma said he had received several complaints from the presidential hotline and other structures that some police officers were seen doing shopping and drinking in taverns using state vehicles.
"If a police station is identified to be a high crime incident area, despite having all the resources, managers would have to account," he said.
The president said police stations should be a beacon of hope for the communities.
"When people see a police station they must say this is where our problems are going to be solved," he said.
However, Zuma said there were a lot of officers who are dedicated to their work.