Defend Truth


“Shoot to kill” backfires as more lead in the air quickly turns into a foul stench

“Shoot to kill” backfires as more lead in the air quickly turns into a foul stench

They were told to shoot to kill. They did. But someone forgot to tell them who to shoot.

Almost inevitably, the gung-ho attitude toward policemen using their weapons has backfired – the only surprise being how quickly it has happened. The shooting of 30-year-old hairdresser Olga Kekana by members of the Pretoria flying squad, Rietgat police station and the Soshanguve dog unit has dramatically illustrated the dangers of the more aggressive policy endorsed by President Jacob Zuma. The angry commentary of victims which came flooding out yesterday, uncompromisingly blames the shoot-to-kill statements of Zuma, national police commissioner Bheki Cele and police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“She was my first-born they killed. Why did the politicians and the president give the police the go-ahead to shoot people as they wish? I will never forgive those police who killed her,” Olga’s father, Frans Makgotla, told The Times.

But as fast as the victims blamed the politicians, the politicians ran for cover. Zuma’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya said Zuma never used the words “shoot to kill” when he recently addressed about 1, 800 police officers in Pretoria. Perhaps not, but the sense of what he was saying was crystal clear: stop pussyfooting around, use your weapon. The policy issues aside, as the reports of what actually happened on Saturday night come tumbling out, it’s becoming increasingly clear this particular incident is a shit-storm of note.

Police mistook Air Force pilot Captain Simon Mathebula’s grey Toyota Conquest for a hijacked Toyota Corolla. They fired 72 shots into the car. Mathebula claims the police who shot at his car actually fled the scene and it took two hours to find out who shot at them. They eventually found out via Radio 702. The police’s story is that the car did not stop after being ordered to do so, and so they riddled it with bullets.

Amazingly, the cops are still on duty pending the investigation.

Is there any lesson from this tragic incident? Perhaps it’s: The reason crimes are not solved in South Africa is not because the police don’t use their guns, but because they don’t solve crimes. More fire power is not the solution; more brain power is – starting with the glaring differences between a Toyota Conquest and a Toyota Corolla.

By Tim Cohen

Read more: Times Live


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options