We need real cops, and not cowboys

I MUST say that I always had mixed feelings about the "shoot to kill" statements by President Jacob Zuma and top cops.

Cops do have the right to defend themselves and innocent citizens whenever their lives are threatened by criminals but the powers bestowed on them should not supersede that of the Constitution.

Everyone has the right to life and if we are going to have police officers shooting people they merely suspect of being criminals we are faced with a serious problem.

Shooting at a car because it did not stop when it was ordered to shows a total disrespect for human life. We might as well have traffic officers shooting anyone crossing the street when the robot is red.

The Constitution makes it clear that anyone running, or driving, away from the police poses no danger and therefore should not be shot at.

The alternative is either to pursue them on foot or shoot at the tyres. But one thing is for sure: you don't just spray bullets into the vehicle without proper warning.

Before Zuma issued his statement, can any competent cop tell me how they used to react when a criminal pointed a gun at them?

The obvious answer is they used to shoot back. It's not something new.

Maybe Zuma's statement was wrongly construed by some officers. The issue should be clarified as soon as possible to prevent any further mistakes.

This is not Texas - we need real cops, not trigger-happy cowboys.

Sicelo Lata, Vosloorus