The SA Human Rights Commission on Thursday joined the Democratic Alliance in criticising Deputy Safety and Security Minister Susan Shabangu for her comments that police should shoot and kill criminals.
"The SA Human Rights Commission is concerned about the reported utterances of the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, Susan Shabangu, wherein she urged police to make use of their weapons in order to deal with criminals in a decisive way," the Commission said in a statement.
Shabangu's spokesperson, Noxolo Kweza, on Thursday confirmed to Sapa that the deputy minister had told police at an imbizo in Pretoria on Wednesday to "kill the bastards" when referring to criminals.
The Commission said Shabangu's remarks suggested she was giving police permission to kill criminals at will.
"These remarks can only be described as inciting, disparaging and dismissive of the rule of law. The Commission would like to challenge deputy minister Shabangu to prove that her utterances are consistent with her sworn oath of office," the SAHRC said.
While police had the right to kill criminals in self defence, this should not be interpreted as a right to use excessive force, the commission said.
Earlier on Thursday, DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard called for Shabangu's dismissal, saying the deputy minister was guilty of inciting police to commit crime.
"Such a call, to not worry about the regulations, would make criminals out of our police.
"Given the gross irresponsibility of Shabangu's remarks, Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula has no choice but to fire her with immediate effect," Kohler Barnard said.
However, Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald welcomed the deputy minister's remarks, saying she was sending the "right signal" to criminals.
"If you and your loved one's lives are threatened, you have the right to fire shots if that is the only way to fend off the threat. It is time for criminals to start realising that they will not be handled with kid gloves", Groenewald said in a statement. - Sapa