Police minister, Bheki Cele, urged police officers to defend themselves aggressively when confronted by criminals.
Mr Cele made these remarks at Philippi stadium last Friday when he officially launched the SAPS festive season safety plan.
He was accompanied by the national police commissioner General Khehla Sithole, Community Safety MEC, Albert Fritz, and acting provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi and the event was mostly attended by police officers with few residents.
Mr Cele told the attendees that police officers were human beings who dedicate their lives to making the country a safe place to live in. However, he said, criminals had declared a war against them, showing them no mercy.
He said criminals in this province thought they were in charge and no one would touch them.
Therefore, he said, SAPS’ intention was to make it unbearable for criminals to live in the community.
He called on residents to speak out against criminals and report crime – and not to harbour them in the community.
“Don’t allow criminals to take your lives. One of your rights is the right to defend your lives.
“We cant allow police officers to be killed by criminals while performing their duties.
“We cant allow this province to be a haven for criminals. Police, clean up this province. Anyone who stands in the way must be dealt with harshly. Police officers are human beings too who have a right to live. You are also corrupting police officers by offering bribes,” he said. Mr Cele admitted that some police officers were corrupt and were ruining the police’s image and encouraged residents to blow the whistle on such cops.
He also urged them to keep a close eye on their children during the festive season and not to drink and drive.
Resident, Siyabulela Phangelele, said it was good to see top government officials visiting their areas. But he said what he hoped to hear from the minister was how they were going combat crime and what some of the strategies they had implemented were.
He said crime in Philippi was high and it seemed as if criminals owned the community. He said they wanted more police resources to be deployed to their communities. Mr Cele also used the opportunity to applaud seven detectives who arrested post office worker Luyanda Botha, 42, who was last week given three life sentences for the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana.