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Johannesburg - Those who attack and kill police officers will be dealt with “decisively”, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Monday.
“We shall not tolerate any provocation of police officers when they perform their duties,” he said in a statement.
“There is no carte blanche to say people must attack police. Hence we shall deal with such elements decisively and unapologetically. So whoever wants to test the wrath of the law will meet its sting.”
Mthethwa said the killing of police officers was a direct threat to constitutional democracy.
He was responding to the murder of a metro policeman in Daveyton on Sunday. Ekurhuleni metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilfred Kgasago said the officer was enforcing by-laws when he was punched.
A businessman was allegedly operating his food stall in an area where he was not supposed to. Officers were towing his caravan away when he allegedly punched one of them. He fell and hit his head. The officer died on the scene.
The man was arrested and due to appear in the Benoni Mangistrate's Court on Monday.
Mthethwa on Monday criticised the “seemingly deafening silence” from regular commentators, analysts, and opposition parties following the officer's death.
“Where is the condemnation that normally accompanies police brutality?” he asked.
“Has the life of a police officer in [a] modern democracy been reduced to insignificance? We shall continue to fight crime within the confines of the law. Coupled with this is our unmovable stance on community-policing philosophy.”
He was reacting to criticism relating to alleged police brutality in recent months.
In Marikana, North West, 34 striking miners were shot dead by police on August 16 last year.
On February 26, Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia was dragged behind a police van in Daveyton. He died later in police cells.
Last week, a North West policeman was arrested for allegedly dragging a court interpreter next to his van in Setlopo village on March 7.
Mthethwa said his department would continue to fight crime “smartly and toughly”.
“Almost each week we are criss-crossing the country, urging communities to partner with the police, and we have received significant support and undertakings on this quest,” he said.
“We shall therefore not allow a minority of people who think they can attack or provoke our officers. We shall not tolerate any such lawlessness, which is unjustifiable.”
Mthethwa said anyone who interfered with police officers carrying out their duties would face a charge of obstruction of justic