Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Hon Minister, the use of the lethal force by law enforcement authorities has always been a very controversial issue. Whilst the ACDP fully supports the usage of lethal force for self-defence or in defence of another, it becomes far more difficult when it involves using lethal force to arrest someone. Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act sets out the circumstances when such force can be used and the degree of force that may be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
This amendment, as other speakers have pointed out, follows the Constitutional Court ruling in the Walters decision that sought to bring legal certainty to the issue. The court had to strike a balance between the public interest, at which section 49 is aimed, and the impairment of the right to life, and it stated that, and I quote:
The debate is coloured by our history of state violence being used to enforce repressive policies, the state often being personified by armed policemen. Today the debate is given added pungency by the high level of violent crime that often targets the police.
We in the ACDP are also mindful of the high number of police shot dead by the criminals and, of course, by the high number of civilians that are shot dead by the police, with the brutal killing of Andries Tatane foremost in our thoughts.
In this regard the court has emphasised that shooting a suspect solely to carry out an arrest "is permitted in very limited circumstances only", and then sets out these circumstances. These circumstances have now been set out in this amendment Bill and, in fact, the Bill went further and added the words that the force "must be reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances". We, as the ACDP, believe that this will provide legal certainty.
The following must be borne in mind. I have done many court cases involving police shootings and the police officers have to take that decision in a split second. Later courts can sit back with an armchair approach and consider that decision that was taken in a split second.
In supporting this amendment we, as the ACDP, are mindful of the serious deficiencies in police training and we, like others, were shocked to learn about the high number of officers who had not yet successfully completed their firearm proficiency tests. The training and assessment of all skills of officers in the use of deadly force must be prioritised.
There must also be effective reporting and review processes for all incidents. I say effective processes for those incidents where deadly force is used, including a provision for the role and responsibilities of supervising officers at the scene of the shooting. Of course, the control, storage and issuing of firearms leave much to be desired and must be improved.
Once one has looked at this, we believe that this Bill will go a long way in this matter. What is significant in the Walters decision is that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Minister of Police had opposing views, and the court has now given guidance. It is interesting that we, as members of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, are here supporting a Criminal Procedure Act that basically has to deal with the police. The ACDP will support this Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]