Rehashing of old law

THE Recent statements by President Jacob Zuma and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa about the need to give police more powers to deal with criminals are misleading.

THE Recent statements by President Jacob Zuma and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa about the need to give police more powers to deal with criminals are misleading.

On Tuesday Zuma told a group of police heads that criminals do not fire warning shots at the police - essentially suggesting that the law was endangering the lives of police officers because they were expected to fire warning shots at armed criminals in potentially dangerous situations.

Mthethwa has on several occasions argued that he wanted Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act to give police more powers to deal with armed criminals.

Yet, as it stands, Section 49 does not require police to fire warning shots when confronted with armed criminals. The section also allows the police to shoot not only to defend themselves but also when effecting arrest of a resisting criminal. Specifically the law allows police to shoot if "any arrestor attempts to arrest a suspect and the suspect resists the attempt, or flees, or resists the attempt and flees."

It also allows the police to use deadly force if it is neccessary to protect themselves.

Legal experts have agreed that though there are some ambiguities in the law, these did not, however, militate for increasing police powers

The question is why are the President and the Minister making such confusing statements about the existing situation?

Is it merely politicking on their part to appease public sentiment that seeks government to show its seriousness to tackle the scourge once and for all?

X