The right to self-defence

Deputy Safety and Security Minister Suzan Shabangu should be very careful with her public utterances.

Deputy Safety and Security Minister Suzan Shabangu should be very careful with her public utterances.

She has once more called on the police to "fight fire with fire" in dealing with criminals.

Earlier this year she had told them to "shoot to kill" when confronted by armed criminals.

Of concern is that her utterances could be interpreted as giving the police permission to kill criminals at will. This is against the spirit of our Constitution, which upholds the right to life.

The use of excessive force by the police is a worldwide concern and such statements do not ameliorate the situation.

The point is that the law gives the police the right to self-defence. This means they are allowed to use any means at their disposal to defend themselves when their lives are threatened.

The fact that in her earlier statement Shabangu told the police not to worry about regulations indicates that she is aware that her utterances go beyond the legal limit.

We cannot afford to have a government official - who has the political responsibility to uphold the law - calling on public servants to undermine the very regulations her government has put in place.

Shabangu must refrain from this if she wants to be respected as someone charged with the responsibility of upholding the rule of law.

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