Newly appointed Police Minister Bheki Cele has denied that he had ever called for police officers to “shoot to kill” criminals during his tenure as the country’s national police commissioner.
In an interview with Talk Radio 702 on Thursday morning, Cele challenged the media to produce evidence of him making such remarks.
“I’ve made the invitation to everybody that is in the media to show me the statement or the written electronic statement where I say so,” he said.
In August 2009, Weekend Argus reported that Cele wanted section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act to be changed to allow police to “shoot to kill” criminals without worrying about “what happens after that”. The controversial section provides the grounds for justifiable homicide should police find themselves in circumstances of life-threatening violence or grievous bodily harm.
At the time, Cele exclusively told the publication that police needed to match the firepower of criminals by using “deadly force”.
Cele replaced Fikile Mbalula as police minister following a Cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa late on Monday night. He makes a comeback to the security cluster as police minister after he served in former president Jacob Zuma’s last Cabinet as deputy minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.
Zuma fired him in 2012 as national police commissioner for his role in the awarding of a suspect lease deal worth R1.7 billion for police accommodation.
The former police chief said he would continue with his tough talk, and said he did not want to see police die with their guns in their hands.
“Yes I have spoken tough and I will continue to speak tough within the law. The things that I have said were that police must not die with their guns in their hands.
“I’ve said that the police must understand when they deal with the tough brutal criminals, they must not die with their guns in their hands and I still say so,” Cele said.