Police Minister Bheki Cele says as investigations continue into the response of police amid the recent unrest some officers’ actions should be viewed as having performed their constitutional duty to help protect lives.
More than 300 people died in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng during a week of violence and looting.
Over 30 detectives have been assigned to investigate the role of law enforcement officers in the unrest in both provinces.
Cele has admitted that SAPS could have reacted quicker to help stop days of violence and deaths.
“The police are in a state sometimes of fluidity where they need to balance between life and things they do in that particular time. I am sure out of the 300 people that died, there are investigations going on into how they died.”
“I guess most of those people did not die because of the police actions – which one constitutional obligation they have is to protect lives and don’t just willy-nilly kill people,” adds the minister.
Cele has described the reaction of several police officers – to the recent unrest – as sluggish, saying their response to the violence and looting will be investigated.
The minister has admitted that SAPS could have reacted quicker to help stop days of violence and deaths.
“Indeed, the response of the police overall could have been better as South Africans saw the sluggish way of the police’s response. There were areas where police had responded much better. But in some areas, they responded in a sluggish way and for that, we will have to investigate and find out what really happened and take proper action on that,” says Cele.