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Bheki Cele's 'bully tactics' could cost economy R24m as more film shoots are cancelled, says City of Cape Town

18 December 2020 - 11:03 By philani nombembe
The City of Cape Town has labelled police minister Bheki Cele a bully after he shut down a film production on Camps Bay beach on Wednesday.
The City of Cape Town has labelled police minister Bheki Cele a bully after he shut down a film production on Camps Bay beach on Wednesday.
Image: GCIS

Cape Town says the impasse between the city and police minister Bheki Cele over filming on beaches might cost the Cape film industry R24m.

Mayor Dan Plato said productions are now cancelling shoots.

Cele shut down a film shoot on Camps Bay beach on Wednesday, saying it contravened the Covid-19 regulations. Despite the city’s protestations that it had authorised the filming, Cele insisted that it had breached the law.

On Thursday, Plato described Cele’s action as “bullying tactics”.

“Yesterday’s bully tactics by national police minister Bheki Cele to close down a legitimate and permitted film shoot on Camps Bay beach has resulted in the immediate cancellation of 11 additional film shoots for fear of further financial losses if shut down irregularly and without due cause by the South African Police Service (SAPS),” said Plato.

Bheki Cele is not the national commissioner any more. He was fired from that position in 2012 and is now a minister, who has no authority to instruct a police officer.”

Plato said the city had since taken the legal route. He said the matter would be heard on Friday.

“We have already approached the high court to grant an interdict preventing the SAPS from further unlawful interference in legitimate film shoots,” he said.

The City of Cape Town and Western Cape government have repeatedly said that while battling the spread of the coronavirus, it is critical that we also open up our economy to retain as many jobs as possible. This sentiment has also been echoed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.”

Plato said he would elevate the incident to the president and parliament.

“I will be writing to the president to ask if he supports his national minister’s destructive and unlawful behaviour, and if not, what action he plans to take to address his minister’s bully tactics,” he said.

“Minister Cele’s unlawful conduct includes the issuing of instructions to operational SAPS staff, which he has no authority to do. This matter has also been reported to the parliamentary ethics committee.” 

Plato said 11 productions had notified the city that they would be cancelling their shoots, each of which is estimated to cost a minimum of R1.2m.

“These costs do not include hotels, flights and other costs for hundreds of film crew and support staff, all of whom are adhering to the strictest Covid-19 safety protocols, as the industry slowly finds its feet again after months of lockdown,” he said.

“Cape Town is a film-friendly city and we will not allow national government’s unlawful behaviour to change this. We have made our city an enabling environment for local and international film crews, who love to visit our shores. Cape Town has some of the best creative talent in the world, which is why we continue to be a destination of choice for international and local production companies.”

PIato applauded councillor JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, “for standing up to minister Cele and correcting his poor understanding of the national Covid-19 regulations”. 

“Instead of policing beaches with heavily armed police officers and intimidating innocent sunbathers, the national police minister should be in our most crime-affected communities, making sure that gangsters are caught and put behind bars, making our communities safer.”