Police response was appropriate, says union as police come under fire

Private security company KZN Vip Unit and police at the scene of the shooting in Phoenix. Picture supplied.

Private security company KZN Vip Unit and police at the scene of the shooting in Phoenix. Picture supplied.

Published Apr 4, 2024


The SAPS has been criticised for its alleged heavy handedness against criminals following the death of nine suspected robbers in KwaZulu-Natal.

KZN police said the suspects were wanted in connection with violent crimes in the province.

As if this was not enough, on Wednesday, the police in Mpumalanga confirmed a fatal shoot-out. This time, police killed five alleged cash-in-transit robbers, bringing the number of suspects killed by the police in two provinces to 14 in 24 hours.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, a senior expert at Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime SA, said there had been a spike in shoot-outs between police and criminals, with more than 393 criminals reported to have died at the hands of the police in the past year.

“Where you have heavily armed suspects that you are confronting, one understands that such incidents are understandable, but when it is a minor incident, there has to be questions around how police respond,” she said.

Speaking to The Star, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) president Thulani Ngwenya defended the police.

“The police have acted within the ambit of the law, demonstrating intelligence and determination in their response to the situation. Upon arrival at the scene, they were met with gunfire, creating a hazardous situation that placed the officers and general public at risk.

“The community has been and is still enduring the terror inflicted by these criminals who commit heinous acts such as raping children in front of their parents, causing unimaginable trauma,“ Ngwenya said.

This week’s killings sparked controversy among social media users, with some slamming the police for their approach while other users felt the police’s response to both incidents was warranted.

Ngwenya said the police have a mandate to protect law-abiding citizens against unrelenting and dangerous criminals who continue to shoot at them.

“It is evident that when hard-core criminals open fire on law enforcement, they are not merely attacking officers but are also challenging the authority and capabilities of the state, as well as its mandate to keep South Africans safe. In this instance, the police emerged victorious,” Ngwenya added.

The police have put the number of criminals killed at 37 in 11 separate incidents in KZN since the start of the year.

Ngwenya said Popcru supported calls made by Police Minister Bheki Cele on the need for police to respond accordingly when faced by dangerous criminals.

“The community must regain freedom of movement and a sense of ownership within their homes. It is unacceptable that criminals hold entire communities hostage. It is disheartening that sympathy is often extended to criminals, particularly those found in possession of unlicensed firearms, while the profound and lasting scars endured by victims of sexual abuse, assault and robbery are overlooked,” he said.