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Media should not rush to blame police - Mthethwa

Policy ministry says most cartridges found at KwaDukuza were from AK47s

POLICE REQUIRE SOCIETY'S SUPPORT, NOT UNFAIR CRITICISM - URGES MINISTER MTHETHWA

Cops will continue to fight any form of criminality, all within the framework of the law

CAPE TOWN - 09 June 2011.  The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa today urged communities, organized civic organizations, business, media and other stakeholders to support the police officers in their crime-fighting mandate. He also raised his concerns about various recent situations wherein police are heavily criticized and made scapegoats on situations they are not responsible for. Minister Mthethwa's remarks come in the wake of the recent taxi owners-community tensions in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal this week (see report).

The KwaDukuza tensions related to a situation where the taxi owners unanimously decided to increase fares and the community aggressively objected, resulting in a loss of lives.  "During these tensions, violence erupted resulting in shootouts between the two parties. 

Police were then called to stabilize the situation; however initial investigations indicate that amongst the cartridges that were retrieved from the scene, some were from AK47 firearms.  Surely police cannot be blamed because in the first place, no police officers utilize AK47s in fighting crime.  To our amusement the portrayal of police as being responsible for any loss of life during what was a scuffle between taxi owners and community, is unfair on the part of the police."

"As the police leadership and management, we have always advocated for police to fight crime smartly and toughly, uphold the law as well as respecting human rights at all times.  In this particular situation, police upheld these principles and if there is any contrary evidence, we urge members of society to come forward with information.  That is why we will defend our members when they are on the receiving end and are unfairly accused.  Our police will continue to fight any form of criminality, all within the framework of the law and there is no ambiguity about this mandate," concluded the Minister.

The ministry is of a firm view that any unfair criticism of police officers can dampen their commitment in terms of crime-fighting.  To this end, Minister Mthethwa has appealed to all members of the SAPS not to be distracted by any such negative portrayal but to remain committed to protecting society.

Statement issued by Zweli Mnisi, Spokesperson to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Police, June 9 2011

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