South Africa’s “shoot and kill the bastards” policy questioned

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South African police have been boldly told to “shoot the bastards”, further cementing the widely criticized government “shoot to kill” policy against criminals.

Topping the world in crime rate, the Jacob Zuma led administration has advocated for a controversial “shoot to kill” policy in fighting crime. Today, South Africa media is quoting deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula saying police should “shoot the bastards”.

Said Mbalula, “Yes. Shoot the bastards. Hard-nut to crack, incorrigible criminals.” His comments will add to critics’ concerns over the police’s “shoot to kill” policy, but in a country where almost 50 people are murdered every day, declarations of toughness on crime are popular.

“We cannot say to the police, retreat. We cannot say to South Africans, despair. Our job is to give people hope” said the minister. South Africa’s government is pushing for more police firepower to fight one of the world’s highest crime rates, which is averaging 50 killings every day.

South Africa is notorious for having one of the highest levels of rape in the world. Only a fraction are reported, and only a fraction of those lead to a conviction.

Last Saturday, a police officer killed a three-year-old boy during a hunt for a murder suspect. The three-year-old identified as Atlegang Phalane is said to have been shot dead in the back seat of a car, where he was seated with his uncle.

The police officer allegedly mistook a pipe which the three year old was holding for a firearm.

Human-rights activists have questioned whether giving the police greater powers is the right response. Although more than 100 policemen were killed on duty last year, reports say they shot dead about 600 suspects and innocent bystanders.

But some people say with the 2010 soccer World Cup due in seven months time in South Africa Zuma’s government has no option but use whatever means to crack down crime.

A recent survey revealed that every day, around 50 murders, 100 rapes, 700 burglaries and 500-plus violent assaults are officially recorded in a population of 47 million.

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