'EASY ON TRIGGER'

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma says he is happy with the new approach the Ministry of Police and South African Police Service have adopted in their fight against crime.

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma says he is happy with the new approach the Ministry of Police and South African Police Service have adopted in their fight against crime.

"We cannot succeed if we are soft on crime," Zuma says.

Writing in the ANC online publication ANC Today, Zuma assures the nation that the country has entered a new phase in the fight against crime.

In the same breath, he calls on police officers not to abuse their powers when dealing with criminals.

His warning comes after the police had accidentally shot dead Olga Kekana, 29, of Stinkwater near Pretoria.

Zuma says while he supports the proposal to amend Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the government is "not encouraging a culture of trigger-happy police officers".

"We do realise that giving too much power to the law enforcement agencies needs to be guarded.

"That is why we are in the process of strengthening the Independent Complaints Directorate, which monitors the police, to ensure that the changes to Section 49 are not abused."

The president also bemoans last week's killing of Pretoria police captain Carl Scheepers, "who was shot dead by a suspect who ignored the policeman's command to drop his weapon".

"He was shot dead when he tried to reason with the suspect.

"Any criminal who finds it so easy to kill a police officer has no respect whatsoever for the law and law enforcement of any kind.

"This is the type of behaviour our country, as well as policemen and women, find themselves having to deal with."

He says the government has already launched a programme to train more police detectives, while the number of police officers will be increased from the current 180182 to 204860 within three years.

"A programme is already under way to train more than 12000 police personnel in detective-related matters."

Zuma says the government's effort to change and review the rankings in the police force sought to send a message that the police are not soft on crime.

X