POLICE Minister Bheki Cele is reported to be calling for those found guilty of killing or injuring policemen (or women) to be given more severe punishment.

It’s been suggested on social media that the death penalty should be brought back for killing a police officer. Be that as it may.

What we are currently facing is a hopelessly criminalised society. It’s a reality that the ruling ANC has allowed to get out of control.

Criminals know that if they fail to buy off the police or prosecutor and get convicted for such a crime, going to jail is a way to get a free university education. Kill a policeman and get free board and lodging and study for a no-fee degree.

But what Minister Cele must include in his latest call is the need for more severe penalties for police officers, from the top down.

Too many are taking bribes and other kickbacks from career criminals and other law-breakers. It is all too normal. This sheer lack of professionalism is too common.

The police service needs to be “cleaned up”. Their image too often lacks credibility and public confidence. There are too many stories about corruption and bribing.

Corrupt policemen and their managers must also go to jail for extended periods. Just being given a reprimand for being a “naughty boy” is intolerable.

This will be the test of Cele’s effectiveness. For too many, being a police officer is just a job where no other was available.

This job has the advantage of increased income by taking bribes.

Those corrupt police, from top to bottom, also need increased jail terms - not just a slap on the wrist.

It is in the public interest to clean up the “force”.

That is something we want Cele to do as well. Not just talk loudly about it with his fancy hat on.

Ron Legg