The new mantra of the new administration has been crime fighting and how the police are constrained in fighting crime. Elsewhere I have written how this is just a ruse to placate the masses because they need to be seen to be doing something different from the much loathed and never supported Mbeki administration.
Below is excerpt from Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977 on the use of force by the police. This section is very clear on when and how the police may use force and or deadly force. Pay particular attention to section 49(2)(c) which clearly states how and when the police may use deadly force.
49. Use of force in effecting arrest.—(1) For the purposes of this section—
(a) “arrestor” means any person authorised under this Act to arrest or to assist in
arresting a suspect; and
(b) “suspect” means any person in respect of whom an arrestor has or had a reasonable
suspicion that such person is committing or has committed an offence.
(2) If any arrestor attempts to arrest a suspect and the suspect resists the attempt, or flees, or resists the attempt and flees, when it is clear that an attempt to arrest him or her is being made, and the suspect cannot be arrested without the use of force, the arrestor may, in order to effect the arrest, use such force as may be reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances to overcome the resistance or to prevent the suspect from fleeing: Provided that the arrestor is justified in terms of this section in using deadly force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm to a suspect, only if he or she believes on reasonable grounds—
(a) that the force is immediately necessary for the purposes of protecting the arrestor, any person lawfully assisting the arrestor or any other person from imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm;
(b) that there is a substantial risk that the suspect will cause imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm if the arrest is delayed; or
(c) that the offence for which the arrest is sought is in progress and is of a forcible and serious nature and involves the use of life threatening violence or a strong likelihood that it will cause grievous bodily harm.
What S49(2)(c) says in simple language is that if the police in attempting to effect an arrest are confronted with deadly force from the alleged perpetrators then it is well within their rights to use deadly force. What part of this section constrains the police from effectively doing their job, I don’t understand.
The South African public is being taken for a ride and they have been gullible enough to believe that the law as it currently stands is a constraint for the police in doing their job. In the meantime innocent people are being killed in the name of taking a fight to the criminals. We have already seen media reports of people who have been shot at and mortally wounded or killed for not stopping on time when stopped by the police.
Unfortunately a lot of the innocent people who are being murdered by the state belongs to the black majority and we know for a fact that a black life is easily expendable. Wait until a member of the lighter race is killed in this name of fighting crime, then we will see “respect for human rights” in action and an outcry about police brutality.
In the meantime this populist administration has dismally/conveniently failed to identify the root cause of crime in this country. Shooting and maiming innocent people will not drive away crime. Shouting at the rooftops that you will deal with crime once and for all while criminal bosses cut deals with the state not to be prosecuted is showing people the middle finger. To state that the state is serious about fighting crime when the state has actively encouraged the cutting of these deals with hardcore criminals really smacks of shameless opportunism, which has unfortunately become a trend in South Africa.