In April 2008 Shabangu, in her role as deputy minister of safety and security, told an audience of police officers to "kill the bastards", referring to criminals. The remark was met with wide-spread controversy.
In March 2003 Shabangu was charged with public indecency after an altercation with an airport security official in which she lifted her dress after repeatedly setting off a metal detector.
In August 2012, 44 people are killed at Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg after police opened fire on striking workers belonging to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). This incident grabbed global headlines. Two days later after engaging all mining stakeholders in talks regarding the massacre, the Minister was asked why AMCU was not involved in the talks. The Minister stated that she was not aware that AMCU was operating in the mining industry.