'Criminals don't carry feather dusters' - Cele tells cops not to die with a gun in their hands
The police's top brass is prepared to defend officers when they use deadly force in the line of duty.
Speaking at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) national congress in Durban, police minister Bheki Cele said officers should not die with guns in their hands.
Cele said the Criminal Procedure Act was clear on the issue of police officers using deadly force if their lives were threatened: "Leadership must be prepared to defend you, and we shall defend you when you follow procedures and when you defend your colleagues."
Cele has previously been linked to a "shoot to kill" order to police, but denied ever saying this.
Cele explained to the 1,500 delegates at the congress on Wednesday that for officers to die with a gun in their hand was "unprocedural".
"It is on that score that I have spoken to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to say be corrective, don’t be punitive with the police. Don’t make the police fear to take the lead, because that’s the problem. Be corrective, do things fast and allow the police to go back to work.
"For instance, we understand that when we go for a cash heist, all those criminals that are there are not carrying broomsticks or feather dusters. They carry hard stuff. That's why we give you hard stuff. The instruction is that all police must do their work within procedure, including not dying with guns in their hands, which is a procedure."
While Cele was willing to defend police officers who operate within the law, he was at a loss for words when it came to cops who turn criminal.
"When you steal the stolen goods that were locked away by your unit, what do you want me to come here and say?" he said.
Explaining that he wanted police officers who worked hard to progress within the force, Cele asked the union's management to provide him with a list on names of officers who had furthered their education while in the force.
"I hear that some of you have doctorates. It is time that you progress. We cannot ignore your effort to move forward," he told them.