THE president, the minister of police and the national police commissioner must now say whose child they would like to see shot dead by the trigger-happy police officers under their control before they concede that their bellicose talk has not had the desired effect.
Last weekend, a policeman shot three-year-old Atlegang Aphane because he believed that the pipe the child wascarrying was a firearm.
Atlegang is probably the youngest victim of this madness, but he certainly is not the first. Unless police rethink their war-talk, he will certainly not be the last. The argument that none of the three politicians have coined the phrase "shoot to kill" is moot.
By whatever language, they have actively encouraged police officers to use deadly force. They created the false impression that police officers could get away with killing their targets as long as they thought they were doing their jobs.
The tactic has not worked. Instead of scaring criminals, ordinary citizens now walk, drive and live in fear that police officers could mistake them for thugs, and their error result in fatal consequences.
The police seem to haveabandoned trying to get the respect of the citizens and gone for the easy way of making us scared of them.
It is not too late to change. The government can still atone for introducing the move away from a police service to a police force by stealth.
It can still make amends for nearly coming close to betraying the values meant to underpin policing in a democratic state.