Gloves are off in battle between police and trigger-happy thugs

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Fire will be fought with fire if criminals continue to kill police, the Institute for Security Studies warned yesterday.

ISS senior researcher Johan Burger said the attacks on police officers were worrying and damaged morale in the SAPS.

"Criminals are increasingly making it difficult and dangerous for police to do their job," urger said. "If the killings continue police will be forced to revert to using violence.

"Police are increasingly working under threat."

He said 108 officers were murdered in the last financial year, 49 of whom were on duty.

"The statistics bear testimony to the fact that attacks are becoming more violent and more fatal," Burger said.

"Analysis shows criminals have become better armed and are prepared to use their firearms. They shoot to kill.

"This in turn prompts political leaders to urge officers to shoot to kill as well."

Burger said the attacks eroded confidence in the police.

"Citizens are increasingly becoming insecure. Communities are given the perception that they (the police) are unable to face up to criminals."

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) national spokesman Benzi ka-Soko said criminals had declared war on police officers.

"We have said it before and we will say it again, the police must shoot to kill," ka-Soko said. "Its now gloves off. The police will respond with equal fire."

SAPS national spokesman Phuti Setati said: "One cop killing is a great loss to the whole country.

"We are concerned about the attacks but they do not threaten us. We will continue hunting down the criminals."