7 March 2018

South Africa: No, Minister Cele, 'Criminals' Do Have Human Rights


There are extremely high levels of violent crime in South Africa which disproportionately affect poor people. Consequently, many South Africans support the idea that the police should be allowed to break the law when confronting (some) criminal suspects, and that they should not hesitate to execute (some) criminal suspects if they believe these suspects deserve to die. No wonder, then, that some South Africans have cheered on Bheki Cele, the new minister of police, when he said the police should ignore the human rights of (some) "criminals". I suspect neither the minister nor those who support him realise that this view endangers the lives of every single South African.

After the police massacred 34 striking mine workers at Marikana (according to evidence at least some miners were executed in cold blood), I was surprised at how many South Africans (of all races) justified the actions taken by the police. Some of the most common arguments provided for supporting the massacre was that "the miners" had previously murdered police officers, and that they were dangerous and would have attacked and killed police officers if the police had not killed them first.

These arguments were based on two basic assumptions, neither of...

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