Minister Bheki Cele proposes harsher laws for police killers

Police Minister Bheki Cele has called for stricter laws to tackle criminals who murder police officers even harder.

Cele was speaking during a panel discussion at the National Conference on the Implementation of the Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS) programme and the review of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Police rights are human rights

Cele highlighted that between October and December 2023, at least 22 police officers were killed.

“Our call… is that human rights must be respected. Police are humans and they have rights. I would really like to see [the law] protecting members of the South African Police Service.

“There has been a call… to say that the law must protect the law enforcers adequately. Sometimes, there is a feeling that criminals are more protected than the law enforcers. As this law, the Criminal Procedure Act, is developed, we wish that it takes that on board that [SAPS] members must find some cushion in the law,” he said.

He assured that any change in law would not give SAPS members leeway to abuse their power.

“The lives of SAPS members cannot be above [those of] the citizens of South Africa. But it must also be understood that they stand as a buffer between criminality and the whole of society. If they are pushed to the brink and they fall, these criminals will walk over the community thereafter,” he said.
Whistleblowers need more protection

Cele also called for increased protection of whistle-blowers and witnesses, as they remain crucial for the criminal justice system to work.

“We would love to see the law really getting tight on protecting witnesses. Sometimes, witnesses feel that we don’t take care of them. There are witnesses that lose everything for us to win cases, so it would be important that the law… makes sure that those who are prepared [to take the stand are protected].

“If witnesses fall off, then cases fall off. It’s important that all processes are kept in place so that when the day [a case is in court] and it’s time for the magistrate to pronounce [a verdict], we are all happy,” he said.

Turning to the issuance of bail for suspected criminals, Cele said more stringent conditions for the approval of bail must be put into place.

“[Criminals] go and get bail and the community takes matters into their own hands so the bail issue is one issue that we have to look at,” he said.

He encouraged all stakeholders to work together for the betterment of the criminal justice system and to make citizens safer.

“Let’s work together across the board to reduce crime, while police are at the hard end of leading it with all law enforcement. But all other departments and all of us, we can do better to reduce crime and make South Africans feel better,” he said. –

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