Newly appointed Police Minister Bheki Cele has told police officers to use their weapons and defend themselves against criminals.
Addressing the memorial service of five slain police officers at eNgcobo in the Eastern Cape today, Cele said the law allows police to use every applicable force when faced with a dangerous situation.
“You are the ones that are protecting the community, you cannot protect the community if you cannot defend yourselves. No criminal must bring terror to the community. Our job is to protect the community and I believe that they are also sad with what has happened,” said Cele.
“Part of the law is to defend innocent citizens of South Africa, if there are criminals and gangs that are killing people in the presence of police there’s something wrong that we need to fix. We must hunt down criminals and not be the ones hunted by criminals,” he said.
He said police officers burying their fallen colleagues must come to an end.
He pledged support for the children of the fallen officers and said they must be afforded quality education.
Cele thanked the police for a job well done after confronting the suspects that attacked and killed five officers and an off-duty soldier.
However, he expressed concern at the possibility of churches hiding criminal activity and said the police will profile some churches.
“Some churches are feeding people snakes. We are going to profile these churches, please don’t regard us as being opposed to religion. We are not fighting churches but we want churches that are places of worship and not be used as smoke screen for other purposes like what happened here,” said Cele.