Members of the South African Police Service are expected to fight fire with fire over the festive season.
Police Minister Bheki Cele delivered the second quarter crime statistics on Wednesday.
The recent numbers show that most categories of crime including murder, rape and sexual assault were significantly higher in the second quarter of 2022 than in 2021.
The message from Cele used to be “shoot to kill” when he was the police commissioner.
In his role as Police Minister, Cele suggested that the men and women in blue must fight fire with fire.
Cele said fighting crime came at a cost for the police force.
Twenty-two police officers were killed in the three months between July and September – which is two members less compared to the same reporting period last year, said Cele.
“It is on this note that this ministry will never stop calling on SAPS members to defend themselves at ALL times from ruthless criminals whenever they are under attack. It is quite simple; police must meet fire with fire!”
Cele said his ministry will never stop calling on officers to protect themselves.
Full #CrimeStats speech delivered by Police Minister, Gen Bheki Cele.
— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) November 23, 2022
OPPOSITION PARTIES CALL FOR CELE TO STEP DOWN
Meanwhile, opposition parties have used the latest grim crime statistics to reignite calls for Cele to step down.
Among the worrisome figures is the increase in the murder rate which saw over 7, 000 people killed in three months.
During the same period over 13,000 women were victims of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, while more than 10,000 rape cases were reported to the police.
Politicians said this paints a bleak picture of a country at war with itself.
Action SA said the latest crime figures revealed how South African communities were gripped by violent crime, with murder still on the rise.
“The second quarter crime stats puts into sharp focus the situations South Africans have to endure every day. If Minister Cele had any decency, he would resign before the close of business today.”
Echoing the same sentiments Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said Cele had run out of ideas on how to tackle South Africa’s relentless crime wave.
“Please fire Minister Bheki Cele. It is totally unacceptable that we must have such high levels of crime. Our country is going down the drain.”
Meanwhile, the Good Party’s Brett Herron said while the 18.5% increase in contact crime including murder, sexual offence and assault is a national disgrace – Cele alone could not be blamed.
“The whole nation looks to the police and to the Police Minister… crime is a consequence of the socio-economic conditions that prevail in our country. So there are other departments that need to be contributing to the reduction in crime, departments like social development.”
The party also called on the minister to expedite plans to professionalise the police service and increase resources.