Sunday, 22 November 2009

How to avoid being shot by the police

John Scott

November 18 2009 at 07:07AM

Now that Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says innocent people will unavoidably be shot dead by the police, there are a few simple precautions we can all take if we and our families wish to stay alive.

First, it's better to avoid all contact with the police. Even if you want to report a crime, there is always the danger that in the absence of the culprit, the police may shoot you instead. So if you come upon a crime scene, walk away, as PW Botha's government tried to make journalists do when they found themselves in the middle of "unrest".

But if a meeting with the police is inevitable, hold up both your hands, smile benignly, and say yes officer, no officer, I have three bags full of goodies for you officer.

At all costs, hide your children from them. You never know when an officer may spot a criminal on the other side of them and start firing. Don't let your children hold up pipes, hockey sticks or anything else that the officer concerned may mistake for an AK-47 and take pre-emptive action against a three-year-old.

At all costs, hide your children from them
Revise your life insurance policy to ensure it covers shooting by the police in the course of duty. You don't want your next of kin to be left destitute because the small print says the company is not liable if you are foolish enough to get between a cop and his suspect.

Don't bother, though, to take out a High Court interdict to stop the police shooting you. It doesn't work. Or it certainly didn't work for taxi boss Bongani Mkhize, shot dead three months after an interdict was granted. The police say he shot at them first. Somehow he managed to do this through closed car windows, looking backwards while his car was in forward motion.

We must take heart from the fact that the police are still shooting more suspects than innocent bystanders. In the 12-month period ended April, 568 people were shot dead by police, of whom only 32 were citizens who accidentally got in the way of their bullets. That's a mere 5.66 percent - one for every 18 crooks, or people the police thought were crooks.

Families of those shot sued the police for R3.2 million, which constitutes a tiny portion of the police budget - hardly enough to buy the minister, his deputy and the commissioner new cars.

In any case, is anybody totally innocent? Not that they deserve to be shot for absent-mindedly forgetting to mention some small amount in their income tax return, or ringing up a collection of parking tickets.

Does anybody listen to anything he says these days?
But shooting suspects on sight will certainly relieve pressure on the courts. It will help to clear the backlog of cases and do away with the lengthy judicial process. It will cut the number of awaiting-trial prisoners. And there will be no need to change the constitution to hang people when they can simply be shot.

Just so long as the unavoidable shooting of innocent citizens can be kept to a minimum, or 5.66 percent of the total. President Zuma has called on police to be careful when they shoot.

Does anybody listen to anything he says these days?

This article was originally published on page 8 of Cape Times on November 18, 2009


No comments: