Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, has encouraged members of the police force to continue protecting South Africans at all cost.
This comes as there are increased tensions regarding what is permissible in the line of duty when the police are faced with deadly threat against the rights of criminals as human beings following a high number of suspected criminals being killed by the police.
This week, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said it was concerned about the high number of suspects being killed by officers on duty.
Reports indicate that over the past 30 days, police in KwaZulu-Natal shot and killed at least 19 people in seven separate incidents. During the same period, one police officer was killed, and two suffered gunshot wounds.
Speaking during his address to members of the police at the 10th Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru) elective conference in Durban, Masemola said the police had all the rights to defend themselves and the community from violent criminals.
“You, the police are at the coalface of crime. You have all the rights to defend yourselves and the community from violent criminals. Therefore, you cannot shy away from defending yourself as you are the last line of defence for the community. You must try by all means to do so within the law,” he said.
When it comes to issues of avoiding deadly encounters, Masemola said police needed to be equipped and trained to ensure they were able to cope with any given situation.
“We need to ensure that management affords you regular training so that you are able to defend yourselves,” he said.
“As management, we are concerned about the killing of our members, which is alarmingly high, and to that end, we will strengthen our efforts to curb police killings through our police safety strategy.
“An attack on a police officer, is an attack on the authority of the state and we must deal with these attacks harshly. Criminals of today have declared war on the police, and I cannot remain silent on the issue of police safety,” he said.
Furthermore, and as echoed by police minister in his earlier address to Popcru members this week, Masemola said management had increased the death grant to ensure members are compensated for their loss.
“We are also working towards increasing the death grant which has remained the same for far too long. Once it gets implemented, it will seethe lowest ranking members’ death grants increasing to R300 000,” he said.