An exploration of police killings in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
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This research aimed to explore police killings in selected areas (Kwamakhutha, Amanzimtoti, Durban central and Point police station) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The motivation for the study was to generate in-depth understanding of police killings by eliciting detailed, authentic data from selected interviewed participants. It is envisaged that the findings, after appropriate dissemination, will enable the South African Police Services to understand the conditions of such in order to devise preventive strategies to curb the killing of police officials, whether they are on or off duty. The information on police killings should provide the management of the South African Police Service (SAPS) with a better and more holistic understanding of situations where police officials are at risk. In ensuring that the goals of this study would be achieved, a qualitative approach was used that assisted the researcher to focus on conditions that instigate police killings while they are on duty and executing their duties, or when they are off duty. The causes of police killings during these conditions were thus analyzed and the effects of this constant threat under which they live were explored. A set of pre-determined questions enabled the researcher to generate data in order to explore particular themes that emerged from the participants’ responses. To analyse data, the Thematic Analysis (TA) method was utilized. The interviews were voice recorded and transcribed. The researcher then familiarized herself with the data for in-depth and perceptive analyses. In this process, common threads that occurred in the various responses allowed patterns to emerge that elucidated common causes for the killing of police officers as well as commonalities in the experiences and views of the interview participants. The main findings highlighted the need for preventative measures to curb and eventually eradicate police killings in KZN Province. Some measures that have been used are the wearing of bulletproof vests and being vigilant at all times; however, these have not been efficient as police killings are still escalating. Contributing factors for these killings were found to be the ready availability of police firearms, police officials’ presence in inappropriate places such as taverns, and the shortage of backups in high-risk areas. Criminals’ motives for the killing of police officers were found to be the desire to obtain firearms, to hijack police officials’ private vehicles, to escape arrest, and to procure police uniforms that are worn as a disguise in the execution of more crime.