Hawks probe more than 160 social media impostors using Bheki Cele's name

18 May 2020 - 11:47 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Fake Bheki Cele social media accounts have angered the police ministry, which says they jeopardise the lives of law-abiding citizens whose intention is to work and collaborate with the police on crime prevention.
Fake Bheki Cele social media accounts have angered the police ministry, which says they jeopardise the lives of law-abiding citizens whose intention is to work and collaborate with the police on crime prevention.
Image: Esa Alexander

There are more than 160 social media accounts across Twitter and Facebook under police minister Bheki Cele's name and none of them belong to him, says the police ministry.

The ministry at the weekend condemned the fake accounts, saying an investigation was under way.

In a statement, it said a warning was issued two years ago against the fake social media accounts but they continue to grow.

“Cele has no social media account, be it private or official,” said the SA Police Service. “Cele has denounced any social media account in his name as fake and has issued a stern warning to those impostors whose motive for impersonating the minister cannot be for anything else but to draw unsuspecting social media users into their criminal activities.”

Investigations by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) are now under way and “at an advanced stage to identify and locate these fake account operators, and bring them to book”.

The ministry said some of the accounts were using pictures that were about 10 years old from when the Cele was still the national commissioner. 

“One such account has just under 60,000 followers who wrongfully believe that they are following and interacting with police minister Gen Bheki Cele.”

According to the ministry, fake accounts also pose a risk to personal safety and the lives of law-abiding citizens whose intention is to work and collaborate with the police on crime prevention.

“It is on this same principle that some citizens who are active on social media may want to share anonymous tip-offs, only for such information to fall into the wrong hands of these impostors.”

Members of the SA Defence Force (SANDF) were deployed across the country on March 27 2020. Soldiers took to the streets to help enforce lockdown regulations in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. TimesLIVE spent some time on duty with the SANDF in Alexandra.


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