The former sport and recreation minister said the relationship between the department and criminals would be like “chalk and cheese”.
“We are not going to be soft on criminals. Police officers must fight fire with fire,” he said.
Mbalula made this promise during a parade to mark his official welcome to the Police Ministry at the SAPS Academy in Pretoria West.
He was accompanied by his deputy Bongani Mkongi.
“When President Jacob Zuma appointed us, he said we must mobilise our people to work with the police to fight and defeat crime,” Mbalula said, adding fighting and beating crime was their mandate.
“No police officer will die in vain; anyone who kills a police officer will be met with fire. I am not saying shoot-to-kill, but shoot back. You have guns; use them to protect yourselves and communities.”
Mbalula urged communities to work together with the police to fight crime. He also urged the police to be honest and not be on the payroll of criminals. “Minister Gigaba (finance minister Malusi Gigaba), said the police budget must be increased so we can fight crime,” he said.
Mbalula was also critical of the tendency by communities to destroy infrastructure during protests.
He said students and every citizen were allowed to protest, but should not destroy property.
Mkongi called for police officers’ salaries to be increased. “If we want to beat the negative morale of police officers, we must pay them well so they could do their jobs.”
Acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane said SAPS members were willing and committed to take guidance and direction from Mbalula in the execution of their work.
Mbalula said he would focus on places like Sunnyside as criminals had captured the city.
He said they planned roadshows to get first-hand experience on challenges faced by police.