The subject of Bheki Cele’s call for a “shoot to kill” law came up while sipping our tea this morning. We are all passionate, even theatrical when it comes to all things South African. The discussion soon put an end to our tea-drinking-and-catching-up-after-the-long-weekend session and sent us straight to our computers to make our opinions known:

Louise:
Shoot to Kill – It’s definitely an emotionally-fuelled statement designed to evoke fear and energise the troops but I’m not convinced that it is the most responsible statement a police commissioner could broadcast. Authorising police officers (many of which are corrupt) to shoot to kill, could have far-reaching and unexpected consequences. Crumbs, even I’m scared to do anything wrong! I agree with the fact that police should defend themselves and kill criminals where their life and other people’s lives are at risk. The main point though is that officers need to use their discretion about using weapons in various situations and one wonders whether a statement like “Shoot to Kill” assumes that officers are educated enough, smart enough and intuitive enough to discern whether to kill or not.

Kerry:
I think, what it all comes down to, is, education, respect and knowledge of our countries laws and of course, money.

I think there should be a minimal entry requirement for all potential law enforcers. Like any job, they should be required to first study in a tertiary institute and have at least one qualification, whether it be a degree or diploma. The more educated a person is, the better, the job opportunities and salaries are. Once the overall standard and conditions of the police force improves, only then would I enforce a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. I don’t think the current officers are equipped to deal with the responsibility, what, with the overwhelming corruption and lack of education, how can they be expected to make life or death decisions.

Katrine:
When sending out the message ‘Shoot To Kill’ I think South Africa’s new top cop, Bheki Cele, wants to create fear among criminals and confidence among police officers. He’s telling our cops not to worry about what happens afterwards, but simply just shoot to kill if there’s the slightest possibility that their own lives are in danger. I think this is great! If police are to fight crime seriously, they should not have to carry the burden of worrying about what happens next as a result of their actions. We desperately need to do something about the high level of crime in our beautiful country, and by allowing the police to protect us with confidence, well, it’s a start! On the other hand, I do think education among police officers need to be addressed. They need to know what to do in different situations and can’t just pull the trigger in any given case. Moving on to a whole different topic entirely, but a topic that’s related nonetheless, I say: Bring Back The Death Penalty! I think this is the only way to drastically curb crime – an aspect of our society which is out of hand and unfortunately often the deciding factor for citizens packing up and heading for what they believe are greener pastures. Prisons are overcrowded, which means that those committing serious crimes are often back on the street within a matter of days. I firmly believe that the fact that these bad okes know they can get away with it, is one of the main reasons that the level of crime is so high in South Africa.

Elzet:
Does the answer not lie in educating and equipping our police force adequately? I think there is an absolute need for a no-nonsense approach in dealing with crime in our country but it should go hand in hand with a sense of responsibility and accountability as well as proper training. Some situations might call for a “shoot to kill” while other situations might be less dangerous and can be dealt with differently. We need to be careful that this law does not give police officers the power to take the law in their own hands. This right should only be used by reliable and loyal police officers who find themselves in a life threatening position. That being said, I don’t think the “shoot to kill” approach is enough to rid our country of crime – our whole justice system needs to be jacked up.

To shoot or not to shoot – what is your take on this?

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