VBS, Eskom cases among 1,800 currently before the NPA: Bheki Cele

27 August 2019 - 19:33 By Andisiwe Makinana
Police minister Bheki Cele.
Police minister Bheki Cele.
Image: Esa Alexander

Police minister Bheki Cele has revealed that 1,800 cases were investigated by the Hawks and sent to the national director of public prosecutions for decision.

Cele said these included "sophisticated" cases that involved municipalities, the corruption and fraud at the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank, and Eskom.

"We expect, in the not distant future, to have real serious results," he told the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

"Remember, they don’t investigate who stole bread, they investigate cyber, commercial and highly sophisticated crimes," he added.

Cele attributed this to the security cluster aligning its work, saying police boss Khehla Sitole, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya and national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi have been meeting regularly. This, according to Cele, was now producing results.

Cele was one of the peace and security cluster ministers who were answering MPs' oral questions in the NCOP. The questions ranged from allocation of police resources to maintaining law and order, to specialised crime units.

He clashed with DA MP George Michalakis, who wanted to know if he would commit to delegating some of his powers to provincial governments who could assist in crime fighting.

Michalakis cited the example of a Cape Town township Bonteheuwel, where the City of Cape Town had deployed 100 metro police officers - a move which saw gang-related crimes in the area drop dramatically.

Michalakis said this was evidence that when different spheres worked together, it led to a reduction in crime.

“Why are you so hell-bent on denying the provinces an opportunity to fight crime when they are keen to do so?” he asked, adding the delegation of powers would not require any change of the constitution or law.

Cele wouldn't budge, insisting that policing was in essence a national competence and the needs and priorities of a province could be addressed on a continuous basis through an MEC.

“This one is a legal framework, it's not a decision or option of the minister. There is no minister that stands alone and changes the law. The laws are changed through parliament,” he said.

Responding to a question on the progress of the demilitarisation of police as per the national development plan recommendation, Cele was adamant that the militarisation of police was not happening. He said that the police curriculum was centred around human rights.

He said, as in any other organisation, there were bad apples but in the main, SA police were one of the most highly-regulated and trained groups of people in the country.

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