On air: Shoot first, ask questions later…

sa police

Many of you have been talking about South African president Jacob Zuma’s move to let police shoot even if criminals haven’t fired first. We’ll be discussing this on tonight’s programme.

50 people a day are murdered in South Africa. Zuma told station commanders :

“We have an abnormal criminal problem, for that we have to explore extraordinary means”

zuma Mr Zuma may have an eye on the upcoming World Cup in South Africa, but it’s sparked a debate on how to deal with serious crime.

Here’s a snapshot of the crime rate; As one South African newspaper put it : “the crimes you fear most are on the rise”

Some believe loosening restrictions on what many think is a trigger happy force will lead to chaos.

Bheki Cele , (right) the hardline new police commissioner wants a “shoot to kill” celepolicy :

 “Am I happy, no, I’m not happy. You cannot be happy when 10 people are killed let alone 18,000”

South African broadcaster Lee Kasumba will be co-hosting tonight’s programme from Johannesburg. Joining her in the studio will be
Bernard Machakela from the South African Police Union.  He’s had almost two decades’ experience as a service police officer, so he knows just how tough it can be on the ground. He told me that police in his country regularly face people with strong firearms and lots of weapons, and they need to be able to respond fully.

Here’s what some of you in South Africa have been saying, via the BBC website:

Andy in Johannesburg: I don’t believe that the police have adequate training to handle such authority and to make the correct choices when faced with a threat.

Peter in Cape Town:  Violent crime will not be ended by redemptive violence but by adopting better solutions to the causes of crime in this country: poverty, racism, social injustice and the like.

Mathopa in Polokwane: The president is right.  The police must shoot at criminals to protect law abiding citizens.

But you don’t have to be in South Africa to have a view on this.

Would you favour the same policy where you live? Do the police in your country have adequate powers to keep the peace? Does South Africa’s high crime rate justify a tougher police response than that in other – more peaceful – countries?

147 Responses to “On air: Shoot first, ask questions later…”

  1. 1 Tom K in Mpls
    September 29, 2009 at 14:40

    There is no pretty and simple answer to this one. I suspect human rights will suffer to protect human lives. Once stability and safety gains are made, then rights can be addressed again.

    Also think of this, do you believe that they have the legal and prison systems to deal with this many armed and violent criminals?

  2. 2 patti in cape coral
    September 29, 2009 at 14:55

    This sounds like a very bad idea to me.

  3. 3 Roger Jay
    September 29, 2009 at 15:20

    So what is the better outcome. Dead/injured criminals or dead/injured policemen? If they carry arms they are fair targets as far as I’m concerned. Zuma has taken the right option.

  4. 4 Saad baloch, Pakistan occupied balochistan
    September 29, 2009 at 15:41

    This is very bad. Well this will take the many innocent lives.Same is also happening in my part of world(Pakistan occupied Baluchistan). If u will hit one security men we will kill hundred.

  5. September 29, 2009 at 16:40

    In America it has proven to be a decent option, that the average citizen is a good individual. As long as, that is true, and the masses are reasonably filled with good people, the right to be armed is enjoyed by each and every citizen, and it works. When citizens cannot be trusted to be armed, then, an equally and unfair system of authority tends to rule, and rule badly.

    It works out that 1.4 million crimes are prevented by armed citizens. This option actually helps the police by inacting instant justice for those times when there are no police around. The cost to a society to prevent crime would be greater if the good citizen were in no way able to step up with an option of real force.

    By contrast in Mexico laws strictly prevent average citizens from owning guns. There only criminals have guns. The police are not able to exert any control over really bad people who rule and victomize both innocent citizens and the police.

    troop …… Oregon Coast

    • 6 Chintan in Houston
      September 30, 2009 at 01:49

      @ Troop
      I don’t know where you are living, but USA is the most violent country in the world that is at peace i.e. no civil war or political unrest.
      2.1 million people in the US are in fedral prisons or state jails with felanious crimes(largest jail population), with 7.1 million people with criminal histories.
      Guns do not stop crime it propogates it. Have you ever heard of mass shootings in colleges and schools like Virignia Tech or Columbine any where else?

      • 7 Richard Posner
        September 30, 2009 at 17:25

        Most of the US incarcerated are there for drug-related offenses, either possession, sales, or crimes committed to obtain them. It’s our new ‘Prohibition’ and it’s stupid.
        As for SA’s problems with violence, the origins lie in the years of violent oppression and economic/social injustice. Be that as it may, the police must deal with the day-to-day, on the ground situation. I realize that shooting anyone carrying a gun is a bit extreme, but unless the citizens of SA can get a grip on their social order, the police must be able to defend themselves and the public.
        While it’s true that many Americans own guns, very few legal gun owners commit crimes. Like everywhere else, criminals use guns. As evidenced by Mexico’s experience, restrictive gun laws don’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals. I consider myself a progressive liberal, but I also believe that everyone has the right to self-defense.

      • September 30, 2009 at 18:31

        Hi Chitan, trust u r cool. I don’t think Troop would argue with you that USA is one most violent country in the world. However, consider the situation where your cops didn’t have the kind of powers that I believe President Zuma and His police force would want to have. I really helps. This Human Rights issue is really making people get away with foolishness, all in the name of this thing called Human Right. Where did he or she come from and how long has he or she been around to be poking his or her in everything the decent people do to have a safe life.

  6. 9 VictorK
    September 29, 2009 at 16:43

    *A rule of thumb: any powers granted to the police against criminals will in practice be extended to ordinary civilians too.
    *Police – anywhere – ought to issue a warning before they shoot, if only to give people they mistakenly think are armed the chance to show they’re not. And there’s nothing wrong with giving armed criminals the opportunity to surrender. This kind of no-nonsense, overly-decisive approach to matters is a sign of simple-mindedness amongst politicians.
    *Any country that values civil liberties and restraints on official power should be very careful about giving the police the power of life and death. If, in an advanced country like the UK, a team of police officers can shoot dead an innocent man and then conspire to put together a story to exculpate themselves about how they thought the person was armed and was threatening their lives then I shudder to think how this policy will play out in a place like South Africa.

  7. 10 David
    September 29, 2009 at 16:55

    How about you find you have shot dead an innocent person?

    • 11 Tom K in Mpls
      September 29, 2009 at 17:22

      How about, you find yourself shot. Or maybe someone you didn’t shoot, gets away and kills an innocent person the next day. I don’t say this to say it is a good policy. I say this to point out that in a bad situation, sometimes a bad choice is the best one.

  8. 12 Saad baloch, Pakistan occupied balochistan
    September 29, 2009 at 17:16

    Surely it will worsen the already tense situation there is high probability of innocent felling victim. This is not good.

  9. 13 Saad baloch, Pakistan occupied balochistan
    September 29, 2009 at 17:24

    Such policy give upper hand to police and security forces and they think that they are free to do anything even shotting at innocent civilian.I am personal witness to this as same is happening in my area too, where security forces have been allowed to shot at any one susceptible. This is grossly disgusting and even amount to what we call” Human right violation”

    • 14 Andrea-San Antonio
      October 1, 2009 at 14:10

      I am so glad to hear there are improvements. I still love Jamaica very much but I am saddened by the scores of people losing there lives. It looks really bad from outside the country and I hope love of country will help people to live together in peace. As our motto says “Out of Many One People” it still reminds me of how special Jamaica really is.

  10. 15 Michelle from Jamaica
    September 29, 2009 at 17:58

    This strategy could make the criminals more violent as they fear being shot, so the will want to shoot first. It could be asking for a war! I think Mr. Zuma feels he is running out of options and I understand his situation.
    We are no strangers to crime in Jamaica and our government is struggling to remain in control. I believe police initiatives within communities (eg- clubs; sporting events) have been helping. When the security foces interact with the people and they don’t feel like the enemy they will be more willing to put down the arms. It is still a challenge, but I feel we are making progress. Also if the heads of these criminal organisations can be found and remove, it might help to bring down these criminal gangs.

    • 16 nora
      September 30, 2009 at 16:30

      Glad to hear that things are improving in Jamaica. I am from Los Angeles, and there were some improvements because of community input after a particular shooting a few years ago. A disoriented homeless woman went down in a hail of police bullets holding a butter knife. South Africa will have the same problem with trigger happy police if they do not already.

      Food and communication provide better tools of civilization than guns.

  11. 17 John in Salem
    September 29, 2009 at 17:58

    Were I thinking of going to the World Cup games this policy would make me cancel my plans. When the rules of martial law become standard procedure it’s time to leave.

  12. September 29, 2009 at 18:02

    I think that President Jacob Zuma,will turn 50 deaths a day into 60. Shoot to kill is a good way of cleaning up,but hardly civilised. No one in the right mind would want a trigger happy police force,what would they do in a crowded area?

  13. 19 T
    September 29, 2009 at 18:50

    This sounds like a bad version of an old Saturday Night Live sketch. Two cops go around and kill people before they commit crimes. Then they can go home early.

    This happens all the time in the States. Definately not a good idea.

    • 20 Richard Posner
      September 30, 2009 at 17:29

      Oh baloney! Police in the US do *not* kill people ‘all the time’ here. Police shootings are infrequent and investigated. Granted, there is injustice here, I’m not saying the US doesn’t have many social/economic/political problems, but to say that police here kill people all the time is just factually wrong.

  14. 21 Ray in Nairobi
    September 29, 2009 at 21:33

    As an African President Zuma’s thoughts resonate for a second. Sometimes an all -out war against crime can feel like the solution. But I then dread the predictable result of a renegade police force. Ultimately it’s a bad idea. My solution is this: Get jobs for those poor township people so that they can have something to believe in other than guns and violence. At the end of the day, most crimes such as robbery are a symptom of economic strife.

  15. 22 Lesley
    September 29, 2009 at 21:35

    Shocked by this idea by zuma I think the crime situation in sa will just become worst not better and more people with be killed per day then already is.

  16. 23 Alan in Arizona
    September 29, 2009 at 23:42

    I believe an individual has the right to bear arms and defend ones person, family and property. Here in Arizona anyone can carry a pistol on their hip or a concealed weapon with the proper permit and training. Convicted felons can’t. The police have to declare themselves before firing off a shot. Personally I feel safe enough here, that I never have a firearm readily available. I’ll be honest and admit that I feel even safer in Amsterdam. I mean safer from the Police. I trust the citizens here more than I do the law enforcement. I’m a good citizen, but in watching the news it becomes more and more obvious that the police assume an individual is guilty and act accordingly. America has become a police state where a citizen is naturally nervous just asking a police person for directions. But we do have more rights than other countries. In France I’ve seen police search people just walking their dog down the street. And in Belgium the police can just pull your car over and search it without probable cause. All in all, I’ll stay in America with what few rights I have and just visit other countries for vacations and stay away from any bad areas.

  17. 24 Chintan in Houston
    September 30, 2009 at 01:55

    There are other ways of doing this, use tasers, it works, unless you are faced by a mob and have to shoot.
    A life of a cop is just as precious as of an innocent civilian, but i think a cop puts themselves in harms way more often than a civilian because of the nature of their work. They have the right to pull the trigger to defend themsleves and their comrades if feel threatned. This previliage should never ever be taken away from them in their line of duty.
    Shooting, dosen’t necessary mean right int he head or the heart to take a life, a shot can be fired if a cop feels threatened to the leg if needed. Its going to hurt, but if you read the link and increasing crime in the country the government has to take a hard lined approach. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    Let the cops do their job, they are no above the law as we all know it have some faith in them!

  18. 25 Tan Boon Tee
    September 30, 2009 at 03:26

    Shooting indiscriminately to arrest the apparently uncontrollable growing rate of murder must not be seen as right. One simply cannot commit another murder to counter a murder.

    The social stability of the nation is fast deteriorating with the mounting unemployment rate coupled by increasing economic woos. The root of the problem must be properly tackled, and the poor-cum-jobless be given work first before any drastic and inhuman measure being taken.

    It is a pity that South Africa appears to have gradually relegated into a failed state with ineffective and incompetent governance. An undeniably rich nation with abundant resources, yet it has many already devastated souls.

    Who will help the South Africans?

  19. 26 vijay pillai
    September 30, 2009 at 07:53

    Has South Africa gone back to era of rule by guns and not on democracy of Nelson Mandela so admired as symbol of democracy and freedom worldwide?

  20. September 30, 2009 at 08:17

    Is South AFRICA changing it aspirations from social justice state to a police state?
    Shame, shame, shame, and the west should name and shame and condemn this violent act of state. I will call it a new form of apartheid! Discriminating the poor, who have no share in South Africa wealth. Shame on you Jacob Zuma, Shame on you people of South Africa… A grate nation with class A wealthy and class B excepted to die quietly… no need of them to trouble the sweet world you created.

  21. 28 scmehta
    September 30, 2009 at 08:29

    This backing of the move or proposed action by Zuma tantamounts of shirking of good-ruling/responsibility, defying/denying all norms of justice and rights to his people; Besides, it’s like considering and treating the criminals and the innocents alike. The move is senseless and draconian in its nature.

  22. September 30, 2009 at 10:21

    With all the people being killed/robbed in south Africa, i agree with a lot of force. In Malawi for example crime has reached highest since the inception of democracy and freedom/rights talk than during the one party system where human rights were rumored to have been infringed upon.

    Come on, Africa need to be safe and the only way safety is done is by using a lot of force. in all the countries that use force (Arabic/Islamic countries) crime is very minimal (apart from suicide bombers of course) . I support the use of force in curbing crime.

  23. 30 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:46

    Tom emailed the BBC from Cape Town, South Africa:

    Killing criminals won’t help – there’s an endless supply of them not only in South Africa, but also in surrounding countries. Education, job creation and tightening the borders will address the problem in the long term.

  24. 31 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:47

    Kevin emailed the BBC from Port Elizabeth:

    I believe you will find that the majority of South Africans will be in full support of the tougher approach. We are sick of living in a state of siege, but are unfortunately becoming almost numb and accepting, so much so that brutal murders, rapes and armed robberies are often relegated to small inserts on page 4 of the newspaper – just another crime statistic. I think we will have to pack away some of our rights, at least until there is respect for law and order.

  25. 32 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:51

    John emailed the BBC from Johannesburg:

    Police getting tough with armed criminals is well and good but does not address the underlying economic and social reasons motivating many otherwise law-abiding people to crime. Until SA addresses unemployment and social stress amongst the poor, by economic stimulation and supportive and developmental action rather than by tax and spend hand-outs, SA will just spiral toward a more centrist police state with government trying by force majeure to control the uncontrolable.

  26. 33 Audrius Kviliunas
    September 30, 2009 at 10:55

    At first I can say that in South Afrikaare 37 murders per 100 000 manwhen in USA 5,8 in Great Britain about 2 and in Japan even 0,44.I think that from theese countries SARepublic can get information how to solve this problem.I think that population must have less fire arms-becouse State authoritymust defend them from murders at first. In my country police can shoot even to running criminals after precautionary shooting to stop them and if there are deads is investigation in evry police shooting.If such investigation will be in SARepublic I see nothing bad in mister Zuma words.I think that must be given attention to essential roots of murder cases-family problems, moral education system,preventive police actions solving teenagers problems. I think that all theese is only part what SARepublic must do.

  27. 34 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:55

    Johann emailed the BBC from Bloemfontein,SA:

    What a politician says and what happens as a result of it has no correlation in this country. Nothing will come of Zuma’s discussions. The principle of, “What’s in it for me?”, is now the overiding raison d’ etre for those in power and increasingly for the population in general. Undiluted corruption. The Darwinian imperative is alive and kicking over here. Sad but true.

  28. 35 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:57

    Lucy emailed the BBC from Cape Town:

    The complete lack of disregard for life that many criminals have has pushed many people who previously thought this should be handled in a more humane way into believing that the only solution is to get tough on them. Poverty can account for a certain number of crimes in SA but the more sophisticated and usually more violent crimes are linked to other factors and it is these that the police chief needs to be hitting hard. Although crime has become more prevalent to the man in the street, life generally is still pretty laidback in South Africa; you just have to be alert. My husband and I were followed into Paris(Fr) and robbed within minutes of climbing out our car – crime happens everywhere!

  29. 36 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:58

    Lilia, who used to live in Pretoria, emailed this to the BBC:

    I think it is a good move to give the police the power to do this, as long as they are not corrupt and shoot innocent people and cover it up. Also I think that people should be able to defend themselves better if there is a dangerous man with a gun or weapon in your home, currently you not allowed to do anything to that person or you end up in jail. Overall I think the government should sponsor the training of a couple of thousand unemployed men to come into the police force and start working for the government to reduce the crime.

  30. 37 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 10:59

    Peter emailed the BBC from Malaga Spain:

    I applaud Mr Zuma for his decision to deal with criminals in this way,unfortunately he is just 5 years to late.! I have lost too many friends to violence whilst living in Johannesburg for the past 30 years that the outside world never hears of.

  31. 38 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:01

    George emailed the BBC from Cape Town:

    I think its great that Pres. Zuma is actively trying to do something about the problem. I think most of the citizens of the country gave up hope long ago because criminals have more ‘human rights’ than we do. Maybe these new ‘measures’ will make any would-be criminal think twice before attacking and shattering innocent lives for selfish gain.

    Its high time people stop blaming Apartheid for every single thing thats wrong with this country – and instead stand up and do something about our present, not live on in the past. Its been 15 years now. We all have the right to be protected.

  32. 39 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:01

    S emailed the BBC from Malawi:

    Bravo Zuma! This is the only way to deal with criminals in SA.

  33. 40 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:02

    Raphael emailed the BBC from Zambia:

    The measures are welcome and the government should involve the local people in fight against crime.

  34. 41 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:09

    Neil emailed the BBC from Cernusco sul Naviglio, Italy:

    It could be too little, too late, in the context of next year’s World Cup. I would imagine that many potential visitors are put off by the crime figures. I shudder to think what may happen if booze-fuelled foreign fans clash with locals.

  35. 42 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:10

    Daniel emailed the BBC from Durban, South Africa:

    I think this may seem extreme but it is necessary. Given the fact that there is no death penalty & criminals take the lives of Police Officers at an alarming rate, it’s high time the Police have the “blessing” to protect themselves pro-actively. If the US can do it with “Terrorists”, why not the police?

    The main concern will be to define how & when it is appropriate to fire first & ensure that there is sufficient training in these scenarios. I think the police force has operated in a mindset of fear, with the emphasis on the “Human Rights” of criminals, they were weary of acting for fear of possible repercussions.

    This is obviously notwithstanding the fact that, like in many developed countries, there is an element of laziness and corruption in the police force that also plays a part in crime. This new law will merely enable those officers who are doing their jobs to act against the violent element in our society.

  36. 43 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:11

    Gordon emailed the BBC from Cape Town:

    While this probably has the support of the majority of the population it has to be recognised that there is a very large criminal element within the police force. Till that problem is sorted out the police will continue to have a credibility problem

  37. 44 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:12

    Ruth emailed the BBC from South Africa:

    My gang rape and a dozen house robberies occurred before the new regime,and I was hijacked under the new one. The police, under apartheid, were only efficient at oppression. We do not need the police to shoot like cowboys as too many innocents already die. We need well trained and well paid, incorruptible and efficient police who can put a viable case together which will result in successful prosecution. If our ministers did not have private security (or hospitals or private schooling for their kids) things would improve a lot in South Africa. This is the thin end of the wedge that is threatening to undermine our treasured and exemplary constitution.

  38. 45 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:13

    Lilwizo emailed the BBC from Cape Town:

    i think it is a good idea from the president to use force.More police should also be deployed on the street,not one van take patrol of the area/location

  39. 46 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:13

    Alan emailed the BBC from Port Elizabeth, South Africa:

    We have a lovely country that is sadly being ruined by criminals. Is it not one’s “constitutional right” to live without fear- although new measures might, by many, be considered to be morally wrong,find one criminal who has any morals and only then could one re-consider.

    Hence,totally agree with new measures with the sincere wish that they are not abused.

  40. 47 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:14

    Sarah emailed the BBC from Newcastle,South Africa:

    About time. Yes,its extreme, and yes, its open to being abused by trigger happy cops,and yes,many innocents will be caught in the cross fire.But we as a country are sick and tired of being held hostage by these criminals-no other method has worked. A cull is therefore in order.

  41. 48 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:15

    Osward emailed the BBC from Sudan:

    I feel what the president said will be implimented in order to restore confidence in the people going for the world cup.Infact a criminal will never hesitate to shoot why shud we police not protect ourselve?

  42. 49 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:16

    Kevin emailed the BBC from Sydney, Australia:

    The legacy of apartheid – as abominable as that regime was – is not responsible for the high crime rate. A blatant disregard for the law, lack of respect for people (of all colour, race or creed) and the inability (or unwillingness) of the authorities to hold criminals to account – that is the cause of the high crime rate. I’m not a Zuma fan, but I agree that a desperate situation calls for desperate measures. Banning firearms would not go amiss either, whatever the “right-to-bear-arms” groups might say. It’s time my (former) country regained some of its dignity

  43. 50 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:16

    Mel emailed the BBC from Durban, South Africa:

    great idea but the problem is that lots of policeman abuse their power already. Many of us don’t trust the police. But lets be hopeful

  44. 51 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:17

    Bryan emailed the BBC from Johannesburg, South Africa:

    Government agencies have been corrupted by very poor leadership. For example, in the police force there are seven sergeants for every constable and eleven inspectors for every constable. The reason is simply that an inspector’s pay is ten times the rate of the constable’s and most of the inspectors are ‘connected’.
    The literacy rate in the police force is very poor; something like 40% of police personnel cannot read or write. Effective policing is almost impossible under these circumstances.
    To allow police the discretion to shoot people is to invite a dramatic escalation of the present levels of police ‘kills’. Amnesty International has already reported that the rates of death in detention make those of the apartheid era police look like child’s play.
    The proposal is a disaster in the making!

  45. 52 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:18

    Thomas emailed the BBC from Osaka in Japan:

    This was over due. South Africa has the best laws to protect criminals. The laws were made to protect the corrupt politicans and their families but it back fired.
    The laws were so lax that poverty, race or lack of education gave you the right to kill and walk away with a slap on the wrist to repeat the same crime again

  46. 53 JCDM
    September 30, 2009 at 11:19

    Shoot first, ask later …

    Hmmm, now how should I answer that question?

    What do you think – I wasn’t a cowboy or an indian, just a Brazilian.

  47. 54 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:21

    David emailed the BBC from Pretoria, South Africa:

    Bravo president Zuma for taking a tough stance on crime! For too long have we suffered under the hands of criminals being protected by “human-rights” laws..

  48. 55 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:22

    Guana emailed the BBC from South Africa:

    Finally an encouraging sign from Zuma! Now if they only stop corruption within the police force and bring back capable officers that were pushed out due to political and racial reasons (i.e. white), the police would take care of the violence within 3-6 months. Most criminals look for soft targets. If the police could use lethal force, they’ll think twice about hurting someone. Might get away once, but the next time could be lethal. Long live SA!

  49. 56 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:25

    Alethea emailed the BBC from England:

    I was forced to leave South Africa in April 1997 due to 6 murder attempts by criminals which left me each time fighting for my life, high medical expenses and permanent injuries. Three of these attempts were in my own home, one in a bank, one in a shopping centre and another on the train going to work. My mother died in 2004 after being attacked in a restaurant on her birthday while having lunch with her sister and a friend. ..

    If a policeman shoots a criminal, the friends of the shot criminal go to the media and accuse the police of depriving them of their Human Rights. The law-abiding citizens in South Africa have to lock themselves up because the criminals rule the streets.

  50. 57 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:25

    Martin emailed the BBC from Cape Town, South Africa:

    Everyone knows South Africa has a crime problem.

    Allowing the Police the abilities that the new law allows, will help us win the war on the ruthless and extremely violent criminals that blight and cripple our South Africa.

    That being said, crime is but one symptom of a much bigger problem that our past has left us in. Although history wouldnt be history if time stood still, lets hope we can win this war against crime.

  51. 58 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:26

    Carlos emailed the BBC from Lisboa, Portugal:

    I do not live in South Africa but cannot remain indifferent to the security situation in that country.
    President Zuma has once again done the right thing by clearly, in simple plain language, providing political backing to the police force.
    The police are the first and pretty much the last line of defence between the overwhelming majority of peaceful citizens going about their lives and criminals whoever they may be in any society.
    As a country organised around a State with men in uniform to maintain law and order I can only praise whatever the latest practical measures are to achieve the targeted goals.
    Besides political backing from the President and the government, the police force must be given full material means in support of their hard duties

  52. 59 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:27

    Andries emailed the BBC from the UK:

    I support President Zumas Decision,this measure should be world wide law. Crime is out of control and being an ex policeman and seen first hand crime at work I would highly recommend this action…Forward with Force!!!

  53. 60 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:27

    Ras emailed the BBC from Brooklyn, US:

    Zuma is dead wrong. the problem with violence will never be solve with more violence. if the police use violence it only exacerbate the situation. lack of employment, culture, education are the root causes of problem.

  54. 61 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:28

    Warwick emailed the BBC from Port Elizabeth:

    This should have happened 10 years ago before the rot set in. It is once again a criminal minority dictating to the majority. A 1st step would be to set a higher standard to the police recruitment and promotion policy. I hope it is not to late to turn the tide.

  55. 62 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 11:28

    Nzama emailed the BBC from Polokwane, South Africa:

    if the police shoot they must do it aiming to kill cos i blive that is the only way to control crime

  56. 63 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:04

    Andy emailed the BBC from Johannesburg, South Africa:

    I dont believe that the South African Police Services’ members have adequate training to handle such ‘authority’,to make the correct choices when faced with a threat-percieved or otherwise, and that this is just another example of rash, range-of-the-moment comments made by politicians who have long since ‘dropped the Ball’.

  57. 64 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:04

    StickyDew emailed the BBC from London:

    Fighting fire with fire. At long last the government stirs, but will criminals still have more rights than law abiding citizens? And what happens after the World Cup, will the pressure be off?

  58. 65 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:05

    Matt emailed the BBC from New York:

    I visited South Africa last year, and is a very beautiful country. However, I’m sad to hear about these staggering statistics (50 people are murdered a day). South Africa needs to step it up big time, otherwise: 1. Many will be discouraged to go to the World Cup this summer 2. Many will not visit due to unpleasant experiences of crime at the World Cup.

  59. 66 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:07

    Patrick emailed the BBC from Glasgow, Scotland:

    I lived in Jo’burg for 2 years between ’96 and ’98. I loved living there, the country is stunning, the people are very friendly and incredibly welcoming. If it wasn’t for the crime I could have still been in SA. However, living in a in a house in Sunninghill near Sandton which was surrounded by 7 ft walls with 3 string electric fencing, within a gated community which itself is in a gated area just became too much. I had personal experience of crime and did not like it. I left in 98 because when you live in or near cities or towns you have no real freedom to walk along the streets, therefore you have no freedom. Even though the Rugby world cup was played in the nineties the order of magnitude in numbers of visitors will be huge. Every tourist is a potential target for people who have nothing to lose.

    I attended the SA versus Brazil football match in JoBurg and almost lost my life.

    I would love to go but I would not take the chance.

  60. 67 Nigel
    September 30, 2009 at 12:09

    When any government becomes part of the cycle of violence then escallation is the usual result. Poor conditions in jail, poor judicial systems, corrupt police, bigger guns and militarization of the civil police function are all ways that the state contributes to the cycle of violence. Zuma’s decision will result in an escallation of the problem as the young “societal soldiers” who believe that they are fighting against injustice via crime will hit back.

  61. 68 Saad baloch, Pakistan occupied balochistan
    September 30, 2009 at 12:10

    What about human right violation in this kind of policy?

  62. 69 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:11

    Peter emailed the BBC from Cape Town:

    I am a student working with the Mennonite Church as an intern minister at a Congregational Church in Sea Point, a suburb of Cape Town. The fact of violent crime is that it will not be ended by redemptive violence but by adopting better solutions to the causes of crime in this country: poverty, racism, social injustice and the like. I wonder by pointing to a more lethal form of punitive justice, Mr Zuma is pushing aside the more complex problems of social inequality and corruption that lay at the root of this problem that manifests as violent crime.

  63. 70 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:11

    Allan emailed the BBC from Malawi:

    Myself i live in Malawi but i have heard a lot of murder taking place in South Africa so i think this proposal of police shooting at armed robbers is a good idea that may reduce crime in South Africa.At the same time it will bring confidence to people who wish to visit the country.

  64. 71 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:17

    Paul emailed the BBC from London:

    its about time we took our beautiful country back from the few who terrorize the many, god bless our police force and may we as south africans give them all the support they need,god bless south africa, miss you so much

  65. 72 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:22

    C emailed the BBC from Johannesburg:

    I think this a possitive approach,though it falls short of what we expected.They should bring back death sentence as an additional to the new laws.This will reduce the crime rate by almost 90%.A good example is Botswana and Zimbabwe.Criminals in RSA are vigilant,dangerous and kill all the time without hesitation, so why feel pity for them.Human rights should be applied to those who have hearts and respect other citizens.They kill anyone from young to old(0-100yrs) as if they are killing birds.Crime free RSA and the rest of the world

  66. 73 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:22

    Cathy emailed the BBC from the Isle of Man:

    This will need to be carefully managed, but I think that criminals currently pay little heed to the police force and this new initiative will help the police to do what they do best – stop crime. We need to get to a stage where criminals think twice before using violence, especially against police, and perhaps the knowledge that the police have the power to act decisively in order to prevent this will discourage them to some extent. The police need public support, and should not have to fear any repercussions for doing their jobs effectively.

  67. 74 Amy from WHYS
    September 30, 2009 at 12:24

    Moses emailed the BBC from Liberia:

    Thanks president Zuma for this new law,this law could help to curtile or minizes the high rate of crime in South Africa and make coming World Cup a peaceful one.

  68. 75 Dave in Florida
    September 30, 2009 at 12:59

    Criminals understand one thing — violence and superior force. President Zuma is absolutely correct.

  69. 76 gary
    September 30, 2009 at 13:39

    High crime rates are indicative of an inadequate, poorly trained, and/or corrupt police force. A shoot to kill policy isn’t a solution to anything, least of all any of the above.

  70. 77 Saad baloch, Pakistan occupied balochistan
    September 30, 2009 at 13:55

    @Dave. Are criminal an other creature? They are human too and most of them are forced by circumstances to adopt criminality.Many criminals have been reformed in past and many could be reformed . Violence and superior most often deteriorates the situation rather than solving it.

  71. September 30, 2009 at 14:35

    Violence breeds violence. The gun culture has to be contained and there has to be zero tolerance when it comes to the use of fire-arms. Trigger-happy gangs should be arrested and given long prison-sentences. Only the law enforcing authorities should be allowed to carry guns and gun licencing should be a top priority. Otherwise violence and mayhem would be the order of the day;

  72. 79 maina
    September 30, 2009 at 14:45

    a shoot to kill policy will ensure that criminals are even more vicious than they already are. By giving them a defacto death sentence then they have absolutely no motivation to spare any innocent person who might willingly or unwillingly impede there commission of crimes. Basically this means self preservation will make criminals more efficient & if a bank robbery or escape will be expedited by the murder of a few security guards or bystanders then the criminals will most likely not shy away from a few relatively low risk engagements as opposed to going against a police force that is bent on eliminating them.

  73. 80 Jennifer
    September 30, 2009 at 14:48

    I think that most people are not trigger happy; eager to shoot someone. If someone shoots; they more than likely have a good reason to do so.

  74. 81 Martha.A
    September 30, 2009 at 14:53

    let the police shoot them down please. criminals not firing first does not mean that they are not armed with other dangerous items like knives/ machetes or even pangas. south africa has had quite a time fighting crimals, i think it has exhausted all other possible means and now its time to send the criminals straight to hell where they belong.

  75. 82 Julia in Portland
    September 30, 2009 at 14:53

    @ Kevin in Port Elizabeth

    you stated “.. we will have to pack away some of our rights, at least until there is respect for law and order…”

    What a terrifying thought. I believe when the citizens give up those rights they relinquish their control of their own government. This does not build respect for law and order – it does the exact opposite. When a person is put under confinement, and believe me, loss of rights and military rule are a forms of confinement, the natural human instinct is to fight that confinement – to rail against it to battle for the freedoms that are deep in everyone’s natural make-up and drive for survival. You end up with the forces that rally against this type of oppression becoming stronger and you will end up with a much bigger mess.

    I agree with an earlier point that eliminating the causes of the violent behaviors will lead to a better solution, not taking up more violence as a solution.

    • 83 Kevin
      September 30, 2009 at 21:40

      Julia in Portland
      I am guessing you are from Portland USA, yes I fully support your broader perspective, but when I say we will have to pack away some of our rights, I am proposing a last ditch desperate measure to curb a pandemic that already strips most law -abiding South Africans of our most basic right – that is to live and work without the very real possibility that today is the day. What good is liberty when you live behind walls and razor wire, when acute vigilance is the order of the day. I understand the fervor Americans have for civil rights, but sadly I think that our wonderful (South African) constitution with all its freedoms is something to aim for, but not yet respected. What is most disturbing to us is the level of brutality associated with our contact crime and it is this that moves us to call for a very harsh response. One cannot argue that the”violent” criminal is reacting to a pre-existing condition or threat, indeed many interviewed perpetrators calmly admit that they have no qualms about killing, many show absolutely no remorse. We share the same ideals, but we live in different realities.

  76. 84 Tom K in Mpls
    September 30, 2009 at 15:19

    Reading the posted emails shows several thing. It is almost unanimous among the SA residents that this is needed. Also about a third, state that police corruption is a major factor, along with a lack of pay, basic education and tactical training.

    It also seems the laws of SA need a rewrite to show that criminals loose rights in proportion to their actions. Endanger lives, loose yours. Otherwise the good die while criminals remain to burden the society. Also, people need to realize, every time an officer shoots, in most countries, it is to kill. Nothing else makes sense in tactics, safety and usually legally.

  77. 85 paul8222
    September 30, 2009 at 15:21

    There have been times when the UK & France as colonial/mandate powers have adopted a policy of shoot on sight. At times during the recent “Troubles”, policy in Northern Ireland & related locations, either degenerated into or was directed thus.

    One suspects militarily it may be the lesser of two evils in the initial containment of near anarchy. It should only ever be a short-term policy.

    The converse is that it is of its self a dangerous near anarchical policy which is perhaps not wise for a democratic government to indulge in. There must be a return to due legal and judicial process as early as possible.

  78. September 30, 2009 at 15:42

    It seems most SA’s are in favour of Zuma’s proposals and they are,afterall,in the front line and sound pretty fed up with crime. Astounded at the literacy rate in the police,if one cannot read or write how on earth do you study law,or even fill in a charge sheet?

    Still not convinced that it is a good idea in terms of safety or crime reduction/prevention.

  79. 87 Nelson Isibor
    September 30, 2009 at 15:46

    Dealing with the immediate and remote cause of these high levels of crime will go a long way in addressing the problem. Using lethal force has comes with many issues including extra-judicial killings and frankly the criminals may just also adopt the shoot to kill policy in sense of the word.

  80. 88 John Henry - Trinidad and Tobago
    September 30, 2009 at 16:05

    What if criminals infiltrate the police force???!!!
    What then???

  81. September 30, 2009 at 16:15

    Following an increase in crimes in Morocco, the police has become forced to shoot criminals who are in most cases armed with swords. In Marrakesh, last week a police officer was forced to shoot a criminal to paralyse him. In another city, Fes, four thousands people staged a demonstrationduring the funeral of a 24 old man who had been killed by a gang armed with swords . In the same city, a gang of four escorted by the police were paraded in the streets after their arrest in a cave where they had been hiding.

    Actually, the police has to be tough towards deadly criminals by whatever means, especially when they refuse to surrender immediately. The police can’t do their job if they keep a soft approach towards determined tough criminals who find pleasure in inflicting all sorts of harm.

    At the same time, the population has to cooperate with the police by reporting to them any person suspected of engaging in crimes.

  82. 90 Dennis Junior
    September 30, 2009 at 16:33

    I think it sounds great in theory but, in reality; Something this idea…Some innocent bystanders are going to be injured….Or even killed!!!!

    ~Dennis Junior~

  83. 91 Aakanksha Singh Devi
    September 30, 2009 at 16:33

    It’s a tough one but in some situation extreme action is the only solution. When crime becomes so rampant it worth giving police forces an upper hand over the criminals.

    September 30, 2009 at 17:17

    . I believe this order is the right one though belated. I haven’t been to that country but I have heard horrendous stories of daring criminals that maim without pity. This has been one aspect which has tarnished the image of the country. Criminals in South Africa have ascended to the level of terrorists and should be dealt with forthwith. I have often thought that the criminal sections of population of that country are people who have never developed a sense of ownership. It does not make sense for one to maim his or her fellow citizens simply because of poor social economics.

    There should be no mercy to criminals. They do not observe human rights and should not expect to be treated humanely by others. They still have a loophole if they abandon criminal life

  85. 93 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2009 at 17:44

    I notice that the WHYS guys are not following their rules as stated under:

    “After a message is removed from the board”

    “If one of your messages is removed an email will be sent to the email address that you used to register your account, giving details of the house rule that your message was seen to break, along with a copy of your removed message.”


  86. 95 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2009 at 18:00

    And just who will be watching the police?

    You have real potential problems when you give the people who are entrusted with Enforcing the Law the Powers also of Judge and Jury and Summary Capital Punishment.

    Who watches the watchers?

    September 30, 2009 at 18:01

    I do not know about the seriousness of the South African police force to deal with crime given that they have failed to curb insecurity. The existence of endemic crime in that country is a indictment to the force.

    In my country the police force is increasingly becoming a thorn in the flesh. Many officers are increasingly taking to many forms of crime including daylight robberies thereby becoming a liability to the taxpayer rather than a solution to crime. The most recent happened only last week when they stole the money they were escorting. I do believe crime can be significantly reduced in a short span of time and political pressure and dismissal of bad apples in the force can be of great help.

  88. 97 Douglas Bethel
    September 30, 2009 at 18:04

    Safely has been lost and fear now rules. The police must act to restore peace or we will all submit to to the fear. And all will be lost to the criminal.

  89. 98 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2009 at 18:06

    @ Shaimaa Khalil
    September 30, 2009 at 18:00

    Thanks for clarifying that.

    Sometimes you WHYS guys email and most times don’t, I assume that the emails happen when a mod new to the WHYS guys side, comes over from the un-WHYS other side.

  90. 99 Maccus Germanis
    September 30, 2009 at 18:08

    If there is a credible percieved danger, then they should shoot without waiting to be fired upon. As I would assume any person would do regardless of subsequent legal prosecution. I don’t see that this edict really changes anything. It simply gives an illusion of addressing the security issue. SA would do better to end conficatory gun licensing and control and allow average citizens to, with poilice, create a situation wherein resorting to violence is not likely to find reward.

  91. 100 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2009 at 18:09

    When the police use that new power will they still have to present evidence and testify to the Grand Jury about why they shot somebody?

  92. 101 Eric in France
    September 30, 2009 at 18:09

    It sounds like a failed state. If gangs are so powerful, I would advice football fans to avoid South-Africa.
    The core is the issue is that, if I am a gangster even a small one and I suspect the police to know it, I then have no choice then to shoot and kill first when I see a copper.
    It might work, but how will the mistakes that will undeniably happen be managed. If you prosecute police officers a posteriori, why should they shoot first? Therefore, it will have no effect within a year.
    If you provide impunity to the police, then S.A. is on its way to dictatorship or terror state. If you are a football fan, do you want to sponsor such regime?

    Overall, even in the short terms, I believe that mistakes that will be made will be source of civil unrest. So the government should start to analyse (if not yet done) the genuine roots of the problem and provide long term solutions to the true social problems. One of them is crucially corruption to the highest spheres.

  93. 102 Jeleana from Trinidad
    September 30, 2009 at 18:10

    I believe the police should’nt be given this amount of power.Im from Trinidad and in the daily news we see so many mothers crying the loss of their loved one because this inhumane shootings.We are not animals,the police are suppose to protect and serve,not to harm us…..

  94. 103 Terria
    September 30, 2009 at 18:14

    Nice going solve crime by doing crime. that is a the flat out Stupidest way i have ever heard spend money on resources and jobs… then crime rate will go down..

  95. 104 Mike in Seattle
    September 30, 2009 at 18:15

    This sort of policy is barbaric and ineffective. As others have said before me the answer lies in economic development more than anything else.

    Besides the total lack of due process, what bothers me the most is that what happens when people are killed by police? Wouldn’t this policy encourage family and friends to start shooting police in revenge? I can’t help but wonder about the sort of divide that will form between the police and the people and the consequences for the nation of South Africa.

  96. 105 John in Salem
    September 30, 2009 at 18:16

    So what’s the exit strategy here? When the killing of innocent citizens by the police exceeds the number killed by the criminals?
    And what’s the plan for untraining your police at that point? Are you just expecting them to say, “Yeah, it was easier not having any rules but now we’re going back to the presumption of innocence”?

  97. 106 Kat in Vancouver
    September 30, 2009 at 18:17

    As an American citizen originally from Connecticut where we have had in the past and continue to have a relatively high crime rate in the inner cities; if we were to arm the police with a shoot to kill order than I believe that would have a negative impact on the crime rate. Local and state police are there to solve crimes not to execute offenders. If the state of CT were to shoot criminals they suspect of being guilty than they would be subverting rather than administering justice.

  98. 107 Terria (Queens NY)
    September 30, 2009 at 18:18

    i agree with Colleen i have seen that in Jamaica, and police has abuse and misuse their powers.. don’t give them too much powers

  99. 108 Robz
    September 30, 2009 at 18:19

    The policy of shoot first is a very bad idea.It may sound good up front,but in the end it will only lead to an escalation of violence and government collapse.
    Giving law enforcement a free pass to use the streets like a (free-fire zone),will only cause distrust and further lack of respect for authority.
    This is true for any society.
    Robz in Florida.

  100. 109 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2009 at 18:19

    I suggest that a police draft system be started up in order to increase the numbers of police officers in each neighborhood and also to give jobs to the current jobless who need them.

    The drafted officers would only have to serve for say, two years, and then they would be sent home with their guns and some ammunition. Some what like the Swiss military model.

    Of course the draftee police could opt to stay in and be a career officer.

    You’d end up with more police and also more ex-police trained in respect for the law.

    You’d “kill two birds with one stone”.

  101. 110 Kat in Vancouver
    September 30, 2009 at 18:22

    The central question in this discussion should be: do you trust the police in South Africa to be the arbiters of justice rather than the judges in the criminal justice system?

  102. 111 Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
    September 30, 2009 at 18:25

    It should be part of a broad strategy rather than function in isolation. Crime is a symptom of something fundamentally wrong with the South African society. Access to guns within the population must be restricted. The South african government must also put in place incentive programs to recalls weapons from the streets.

  103. 112 Ryan in Alberta (Canada)
    September 30, 2009 at 18:25

    If the crime didn’t deter me before from attending the World Cup, this new law definitely might. We all know that people get rowdy during the World Cup but with this new law, I would definitely be afraid that I might get caught up in one of these rowdy crows, and then if the police just start shooting into the crowd ,should they get too rowdy, I definetely would be afraid of that.

    This is a disaster waiting to happen

    President Zuma seems to be using scare tactics to deter the violence, the likely hood that this will work is low.

  104. 113 Andrew in Australia
    September 30, 2009 at 18:26

    The problem with such a situation is that police are fallable, as we have seen throughout the world police make mistakes, they are perhaps not trained well enough or simply the wrong people are recruited to the police force.

    With that in mind and such an option available without fear of sanction then police officers will take that option for efficiency or perceived safety. In some cases no doubt, how could an offcier be sure a suspect is armed, if he waits for them to brandish their weapon it might be too late for them or others nearby.

    Unless you have officers who are above rushes of blood or poor judgement, people will die, people who should not have died.

  105. 114 Douglas Bethel
    September 30, 2009 at 18:28

    Criminals have produced a world of fear. We must to something to restore a civil world. Greed and want today rule… and gun crimes are the tool.

  106. 115 Bruce - Texas
    September 30, 2009 at 18:35

    What the South African government needs to do is outlaw open carrying weapons, which, it would seem, is legal or not enforced there now. If open carrying is made illegal, it will be obvious that those who are openly carrying weapons in public (they should be able to carry whatever they want in private) have a criminal intent.

    • 116 Marlon, Trinidad
      September 30, 2009 at 18:49

      When you put such power in the hands of the police I think it will increase the level of lawlessness because officers can go after any person and claim that they were in criminal activity.

  107. 117 Nella
    September 30, 2009 at 18:37

    Not being from South Africa, I would like to hear from the South African commentator and police officer about underlying class issues related to this new policing policy.

  108. 118 Alan in Arizona
    September 30, 2009 at 18:38

    After reading most of these posts, it’s obvious that those South Africans giving theirs opinions are mostly in favor of these laws. So I called a friend to ask his girl friend what she thought (she moved here a few years back from just outside of Johannesburg). Her comment,” If this helps out I might move back in the future.”. She told me she left due to the lack of opportunities and the high crime rate. I find it hard to believe a government could let it get this bad. Maybe give the police the requirement of one statement to drop a weapon and then let them deal with the situation as they see fit. It’s sad to waste a life but it is sadder to lose innocent lives to a criminal. Maybe 1 command to drop the weapon then 1 bullet in the head if they don’t. Nice and simple!

  109. 119 steve
    September 30, 2009 at 18:44

    How far is Samoa from Hawaii and Australia or wherever the nearest US Naval bases are that would have supplies? Are their airstrips there for relief supplies to come in, as obviously the US military is going to respond to this given that Part of Somoa is a US territory.

  110. 120 Kat in Vancouver
    September 30, 2009 at 18:44

    This new policy supported by Mr. Zuma is very concerning and maybe this is the next step towards going the route of Zimbabwe.

  111. 121 Howard Barkan
    September 30, 2009 at 18:44

    Very dangerous policy. Who knows if the person shot is s criminal? That’s for the courts to decide. When I was living Chicago, I was talking to someone in a restaurant when a policeman walked up to us, flashed his badge, then shot the person I was talking to (happily did not kill him). They then charged the person with several crimes. The policeman and nobody else talked to me. I found the shot person’s family, went to court for the person shot (all charges were dropped). We then took the policeman to federal court (after an FBI investigation. The policeman was acquitted, though the judge did say it was some of the worst policing he had ever seen.

  112. 122 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2009 at 18:52

    This reminds me of the reason the English Magna Charta was established. Read up on that history, it was 1215 CE if I recall correctly.

    Before that, the King could have killed anyone he wanted to without even being required to present evidence of a crime. After that, the King had to present evidence before a Secret Grand Jury and then the Grand Jury had to agree and sign an Indictment paper, that there was sufficient evidence to justify charging the alleged criminal with a crime and then trying him in Court..

    Giving the police the power that the king had before 1215 is a really really bad idea.

    • October 1, 2009 at 07:41

      The British Bobby never carried a gun before. But now everybody pretends to be an American cowboy. Then we blame those who use similar methods. Its always the case of the pot being called black.

  113. 124 Alex
    September 30, 2009 at 18:52

    Why give Police weapons but not a right to use them? Either take guns away from police or let them do their job with the given tools.

  114. September 30, 2009 at 18:53

    This is how it is in Jamaica where I lived for fifteen years. But what really happens is that the police shoot who ever they want to shoot, and crime still ravages the island. The people are afraid of the police and the gunmen.

  115. 126 Tom K in Mpls
    September 30, 2009 at 18:58

    Why do so many people believe that reasonable threats will stop those that perform unreasonable acts? The shooting is not a threat to the criminal. It is a means of stopping a threat to the public.

  116. 127 Randy K
    September 30, 2009 at 19:05

    The measure been put in place by President Zuma is a desperate measure to win the confidence of the international community as the 2010 world cup approaches:but this will achieve JUST the adverse effect: Visitors will be scared as they will think they are visiting a country at war not a country at peace which it is supposed to be.
    I think many visitors will be caught in the cross fire rather than protected.
    R., India

  117. 128 Mmegbuaneze, Sttgt, Germ
    September 30, 2009 at 19:13

    A police officer who is well trained knows when to shoot and when not to shoot and doesn’t need a presidential order to do that.

    Police are supposed to be protectors and not eliminators of people. Its the norm in Africa and maybe its the president’s idea of fighting crime. South Africa is surely but slowly retrogressing. I am a Nigerian and knows exactly what police brutality means.

    A girl refuses a police man advances in a disco he later rounds her and her friends up and shoots them. They were labeled armed robbers. The case is till on and here are thousand of such cases in Nigeria

    A corrupt society with a police authority with limitless powers is a recipe for disaster. After all that was done is Nigeria better of now? NO.

    Everybody knows where Zuma is coming from and he should just go the whole hog just like Nigeria by making illegal possession of firearm punishable by life jail and armed robbery punishable by death by firing squad

  118. 129 hamza
    September 30, 2009 at 19:16

    the police are like doctors, they provide social services. it would be horrendous to make their operations similar to that of the very people they want to control. no matter the cost the government should never allow their agents to shoot before asking questions! this is unethical. south africa should be careful not to over react it would certainly backfire when innoscent people begin to be the victims of this policy.


  119. 130 subra
    September 30, 2009 at 19:30

    The problem of crimes in South Africa is the ANC that left guns in the hands of the guerillas after the end of apartheid. After winning the election the ANC leadership ought to recuperate the guns from their membersbut which was not done.
    To give green light to police to fire at criminals is to give a licence to kill to all those trigger happy policemen who can enjoy themselves killing innocent civilians.
    With fraud and corruption at higher echelon of SA society going unpunished the poverty stricken masses determine to wrangle in the fray and get their slices of the pie.
    Violence shall harvest violence, not reduce it.

  120. 131 Randy K
    September 30, 2009 at 19:31

    Crime are committed mostly by the unemployed.The best way to keep them away from crime is to give them jobs, so that they will not be self-employed in crime.
    If the police are given the ultimate power to shoot SUSPECTED CRIMINALS and then ask questions later then the police and the criminals will have almost the same job description with the difference being that criminals will not ask questions after the shooting.

  121. 132 John in Salem
    September 30, 2009 at 19:32

    So you’re woken in the middle of the night by a noise outside your window – you grab your gun and go out to investigate.
    Are you now safer if you encounter a burglar, or the police? Remember – neither one has to say a word before they kill you.

  122. 133 jonathan
    September 30, 2009 at 19:33

    I agree that South Africa’s Police should be allowed to shoot first to stop criminals, especially violent ones.

    SA has one of the highest rates of murder, rape and violent assault in the world, with citizens feeling helpless in the face of criminal sub-human thugs.

    I warn any vistor to South Africa – especially women. Be very very careful when in the country because rape is endemic in SA, and most are not reported to the police anyway.

    I speak of personal experience: my sister survived attempted rape by fighting off the attacker.

    Shatered, she emigrated to Canada within a short period.

    Ask your guest why so many millions of South Africans have voted with their feet: emigrated to escape violent crime.

  123. 134 Brendan Proctor
    September 30, 2009 at 19:36

    The police have sufficient powers under current legislation – however very often they do not follow correct procedures in high pressure situations leading to unnecessary confrontations.

    Police murders last year = 108 but civilian murders are 50 per day! Police weapon losses are very high so arming police better will not help.

    This is a complex problem and President Zuma’s comical comments do not help.

  124. September 30, 2009 at 22:39

    Pres.Zuma is right ! The rampant crime situation in South Africa
    definetely deserves to be attended to .I was born there.Watched the fearful conditions ever since I was a kid.A few years ago I went there for medical treatment.After treatment I informed my hosts
    that I wanted to visit old contacts.I was told don’t carry your wallet,dont wear a necktie,dont wear a jacket and don’t wear your watch !Just carry a few rand for busfare or whatever.Should you wish to buy anything ask the shop keeper to deliver.Recently I had a call from a close friend who hurriedly left South Africa.I asked him why so ? He replied ,they came with an AK47 cleaned us out but were not satisfied and threatened to put our 2 month old baby into the Micro-wave if we did’nt comply.We had to phone a friend to
    provided 1,000 rand before they went away. After this incident,I say”Shoot first”there is no other remedy for the thugs in RSA.

  125. 136 Alethea Francis
    October 1, 2009 at 08:44

    Thank you for letting take part in your programme ‘Shoot first, ask questions later..’ last night. Unfortunately the co-host Lee Kasumba misunderstood me when I said that the man caught was not charged because he did not murder me. She thought that the wrong man was caught. The right man was caught because the police caught him attacking me and he was also identified by the woman whom he attacked in a nearby shop about an half an hour before he attacked me. Because we did not die, he could not be charged because at the time of the attack, criminals were only being charged for murder not grievous bodily harm. I am still suffering nearing 15 years later from the injuries he inflicted on me.

  126. 137 patti in cape coral
    October 1, 2009 at 14:07

    I noticed that most South Africans posting are in favor of Mr. Zuma’s measures, a testament to how bad things are, but I still think it is a very bad idea. For this to work, the police would have to be infallible and incorruptible. Even a good and decent policeman makes mistakes, now multiply that by a whole body of police, good and bad.

    • 138 Tom K in Mpls
      October 1, 2009 at 20:24

      patti, in your reply, you are looking for perfection. And your concepts are valid. But right now, people are looking for better. Perfect can come later. Btw, this is how it is done now in the US. Accountability is the key. They can work on that as they go.

  127. 139 Pam Toll, Park Forest IL USA
    October 1, 2009 at 21:40

    The World is such a volatile place, here in my area, near Chicago IL USA, the police feel that its them against the citizens.. Im sure when behind a gun you probably feel its us or them.. its so wild west, but most of us dont have to make life /death calls on a daily basis.. so you cant really be judgemental. I guess these So africans should be reprimanded and charged if the person they shot doesnt have a gun or weapon.. but who is going to judge that? theyre partners? These things take place all over the USA daily..People need to find a reason NOT to be so volatile.. its a reflection of a dissatisfied society. Their govt should address the needs of the people more thoroughly.

  128. 140 James Ian
    October 2, 2009 at 07:31

    Sometimes you have to take a life to save a life.

  129. 141 Tom D Ford
    October 2, 2009 at 17:19

    The reason I suggested a Police draft is that you could rapidly build up a very large police presence and take back control from the criminal types. You would give people jobs as police and every other job related to training and running a police force. Once control is taken back you could gradually start letting the draftees go back to civilian lives.

    I think you would need to support development of small businesses and regulate large businesses so that they don’t corrupt the nation once the nation is stabilized.

  130. 142 Robert Mond
    October 2, 2009 at 21:37

    I am wondering if anyone here knows where online I could get South African murder statistics broken down by race. The percentage of white, black and colored murder victims idealy going back 3-5 years

  131. 143 Pete
    October 3, 2009 at 13:58

    In the light of recent events, This situation already applies in certain parts of the UK.


  132. October 3, 2009 at 15:42

    This is pure 100% undiluted Zuma. Its what South Africans voted for. If you vote for a dummy you get dummy policies and in this case not dum-dum bullets.

  133. 145 Marcia Pinto
    October 4, 2009 at 19:11

    I am a South African and proudly so. There is just one problem, I live thousands of miles away from the country where I was raised, in a country that I can never call my own. The violence, I believe, has reached a point of no return, but who are we to say that Zuma’s shoot to kil policy wont work. In a country that is deseased with crime, isnt anything solution worth a go?

  134. 146 Howard
    October 4, 2009 at 23:24

    James, taking a life takes a life. There are no ‘do overs’. When I was living in Chicago, I was talking with someone (1 meter away from me) when a policeman walked up, flashed a badge, and shot the man I was talking with. They then arrested the man he had shot (happily not killed, though put him in a hospital for weeks). I stayed there, but NO police officer at the scene talked to me. I described this situation on this blog several days ago.
    Shoot an innocent man (or woman) and they’re hurt. Kill them and it’s over. There are hundreds of years of jurispudence guarding against this kind of arrogance. Further, it is a policy that DOES NOT WORK. I watched the gang violence escalate in Chicago. with a cycle of violence and revenge. We do not all need to descend to the level of the violent, particularly when we’re acting in a situation where we think they MIGHT become violent.

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