Sunday, August 15, 2010

Police killings soar in SA

Aug 15, 2010 12:00 AM | By MONICA LAGANPARSAD

The number of suspects killed by policemen has reached record levels, prompting a call for shoot-to-kill guidelines to be enforced at station level across South Africa.

SHOOT TO KILL: Last year, police killed suspects in numbers not seen since the 1980s Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

A new study on lethal force by police found last year's figures for suspects killed were the highest recorded in the country since the '70s and'80s, when apartheid South Africa was engulfed by political turbulence and violence.

Published by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, the study looks at the killing of suspects, off-duty deaths and firearm accidents.

It found that fatal shootings by police have more than doubled since police recorded their lowest annual toll of fatal shooting four years ago.

In 2006, 281 suspects were killed by police; this increased last year to 568 - the highest figure recorded by the Independent Complaints Directorate since it was established in 1997.

KwaZulu-Natal ranked the highest with an increase of 35% in fatal shootings last year, followed by Gauteng at 22%.

Both provinces also contributed to more than 50% of national figures for the death of bystanders.

David Bruce, a senior researcher and author of the study, found that KwaZulu-Natal also had the highest number of police murders, at 26%.

The use of lethal force by police is governed by legislation, and Bruce recommended that a policy with guidelines on lethal force be rolled out at station level.

''It would articulate better when and how lethal force should be used. It would build the principle that the job of the police is to protect life," he said.

He said there was a danger of labelling suspects as second-class citizens.

''People are willing to accept the death of criminal suspects. It sends the message that some lives matter and some don't."

Dr Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, agreed with Bruce's call.

''This type of policy should be drawn up and its implications addressed to officers. It should become an integrated part of their training."

A police spokesman, Colonel Vishnu Naidoo, said officers were trained to use their firearms effectively and that legislation allowed the use of "deadly force" when in imminent danger.

"On a daily basis, our officers must deal with people armed with automatic and semi-automatic weapons that commit a variety of aggravated robberies.

"These criminals would do anything to get rid of obstacles that stand in the way of achieving their criminal ends, including killing innocent people," he said.

Times Live

Comments by Sonny

No wonder security guards at Aurora think they also have 'Carte Blance' permission to shoot on sight!

Criminals are lower than 'second class' citizens!

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