Police blame regulations and restrictions in their work
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THE top brass of the police has blamed their highly regulated conduct and restrictions, making the officers very careful when conducting their duties, for lack of effective policing.
Police Minister Bheki Cele and national commissioner Khehla Sitole said this when responding to questions in the police portfolio committee in Parliament.
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe that said that during the recent civil unrest the police officers were seen retreating from mobs that were looting.
Meshoe said some of the officers have told them that they were not allowed to shoot at protesters, even those who were armed.
“Some said it was difficult to be hard because they use public transport and were threatened that ‘we will get you in the bus and the train and that we know where you stay’.
“How can they be effective if they are vulnerable and can't shoot because they travel with the same people?” he asked.
Cele said the police were in a dilemma and that there was a need to discuss how officers should behave.
He told MPs that there were instances, such as in Gauteng, where officers were pushed around even though they had firearms.
Cele also said the officers complained that when they use their firearms they stand trial alone and nobody bothers to find out what happened to them.
“The police are highly regulated, highly restricted at the expense of their own lives,” he said.
He recalled that during the Farlam Commission of inquiry after the Marikana massacre. individual police officers were made to account for their actions.
“The welfare of police is one thing not taken on board by many of us, by legislators, Human Rights Commission and NGOs. Nobody believes police need to protect themselves and the rest of people and be safe themselves.”
Sitole agreed that their members were allowed to shoot under the current laws, and human rights prescripts and public perceptions were heavy on the police.
“They are handicapping them from acting,” he said.
Sitole said while SAPS would invest in training and prepare officers to be fully equipped without the use of maximum force, there should be attention to laws handicapping the police.