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Pretoria - Police Minister Bheki Cele has declared a war against criminals who were hellbent on terrorising ordinary citizens, saying they didn't have a space in South Africa.

"We are not going to share any space with the criminals. This space belongs to the people of South Africa. This space belongs to the women of South Africa and children that cannot be terrorised and assaulted and have fear of walking on the streets of South Africa,"he said.

Cele spoke on Friday at the Tshwane Police Academy where a parade was held to welcome him back to the police force.

"We are not here to share the space with criminals. They must just try to get a space somewhere where we won't be able to reach them because they are not able to reach us. If they stay that way, that's fine. Don't come on our path,"he said.

He announced that police officers would be expected to always be out in the field fighting crime rather than spending time in offices.

"Our offices will be cold because not too many of us will sit in the offices. Starting from him (the national police commissioner) and me. We will be inviting you soon, taking our walks, tackling the places where we think it will make lives easier for South Africans,"he said.

Cele said he won't be calling for re-militarisation of the police because he had never done so in the first place. 

"What we called for is that the police (must be) trained to protect South Africans to make sure that they are safe. And for that we are saying maximise your training, maximise your equipment. We are not at war with the community of South Africa. We shall never be at war with the community of South Africa. But I want to say, whoever declares war against us he will find one" he said.

He said the police would clean up the space to make sure that the people of South Africa were safe.

"Sometimes we will take a very tough stance and that tough stance is not  militarisation. It is a response to people who think we are softies. We are not softies. And they will learn and they will learn soon in a hard way," he said.

Cele also warned police officers against exhibiting behaviour that could put the reputation of the SAPS in disrepute.

"We shall not accommodate anybody who tarnishes the image of the South African Police Service members," he said.

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Pretoria News