JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South African police chief Bheki Cele has warned officers to "shoot first" to protect themselves against armed criminals amid a wave of violence that has seen more than 50 cops killed so far this year.
Cele made the remarks at the funeral of two officers who were killed in the line of duty last weekend east of Johannesburg, the Sunday Times reported.
"When you see a criminal pointing a firearm at you, do not smile as the gun he is holding is not a camera. Shoot first to protect yourself," Cele said.
"SAPS (the South African Police Service) is not a burial society that buries police every weekend. We need to stand up and fight these criminals and we shall win."
Police say at least 56 officers have been killed since January.
Last week Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa called for more training for South Africa's officers, who deal with some of the highest rates of violent crime in the world.
The country recorded an average of 46 murders a day last year.
© 2011 AFP