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COMMENT: Wild West shots new law?

2013-11-11 07:41

INNOCENT BEWARE: South African have a habit of shooting off at suspects in car chases, putting innocent people at risk, without a proper protocol i.e waiting for backup and trying to stop fleeing criminals. Image: SAPA

Pretoria - The saga of blue-light police cars, late-night stops, high-speed chases and a 'protocol' to be observed by police and public alike has raised more questions.

When should the police give chase - and should not a smarter solution than 'Wild West' tactics be found?

Read about the police-stop protocol

The questions arose here at Wheels24 after Sapa reported that two alleged robbers had been arrested after a police stop degenerated into a movie-scene car-chase complete with flying bullets from a moving police car.


Here's how it went, according to the police - sadly, a frequent occurrence on the streets of South African cities: police tried to stop a BMW X5 (the report did not say why or whether it was day or night) in Silverton, Pretoria, but the car with two people inside "sped off". It was, in fact, stolen in June 2013 but that was not known at the time.

Which is where, in Wheels24's opinion, things went very awry. The fleeing X5 ignored road-junction stop signs and "even drove into oncoming traffic" and police started shooting at it, according to the Sapa report.

The police report said the X5 stopped (it was not made clear why), two men jumped out and fled but were chased and caught by the officers. The X5 was searched and, Police Captain Jan Sepato said, two firearms, 12 rounds of ammunition, plasma TV sets, laptops, an iPad, a camera, jewellery and supposed housebreaking tools including a grinder, a screwdriver, a bolt-cutter, cable ties and gloves were found.

Police are investigating whether the two men can be linked to other crimes; meanwhile, they will appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court. It is good that they are behind bars and facing a trial and perhaps a long jail term.

Wheels24 asks, however: What if innocent people had been injured, even killed, by the speeding X5 as it fled from the police - or even by the police bullets? Could it not have simply been followed until other units joined the hunt and perhaps stopped without the use of firearms?

If the police have an answer, Wheels24 would love to hear it, but meanwhile what do you readers think? 'Mad Max' for real and people - perhaps children - in peril or brains and tactics, as used by other police forces around the world?

A few TV's and computers are not worth the loss of a single life.

Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24
Read more on:    blue light incidents

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