Steenhuisen is a disaster and doesn't understand the law: Bheki Cele
'I am glad you're interim leader — I hope you don't become permanent'
Police minister Bheki Cele has fired a broadside at DA interim leader John Steenhuisen, describing him as “a disaster”.
This was after Steenhuisen, during his input during a debate on last week's state of the nation address (Sona) on Tuesday, called for the law to be amended to allow provincial governments to have control over police.
Responding to Steenhuisen on Wednesday, Cele lashed out at the interim DA leader, saying his proposal demonstrated a poor understanding of the country's laws and its constitutional framework.
“I am glad you're interim leader. I hope you don't become permanent, because you're a disaster,” Cele told Steenhuisen as other ANC MPs spurred him on with loud applause.
“Yesterday [Tuesday] I met the premier of this province [the Western Cape], who understands matters much better than the interim national leader.
“Early January a [policeman] was shot and killed in this province, shot by the so-called law enforcer. When we look at it, those structures that they boast about are outside the legislative framework. We're working with them to put them into the legislation.
“They carry guns, minus certificates. It's just a group of thugs — they are unaccountable. These are the people we should be putting in prison, together with their leaders. That's what we were talking [about] with the premier.”
Cele also accused the Western Cape government of refusing to meet representatives of the auditor-general over its failure to spend R5bn on tackling violence and other forms of crime in the province.
But Steenhuisen, who is campaigning to be elected the DA's new leader at a party election due in May, appeared to take Cele's personal attack on the chin.
“I would ask please that you request the minister of police to kindly repeat that endorsement, so that the rest of SA can hear it. It's the best endorsement I've ever received in my campaign,” he quipped.
DA MP Leon Schreiber sprang to Steenhuisen's defence by pulling Ramaphosa into the mudslinging.
“Honourable chair, it's actually quite disgraceful to hear the minister of police attacking the DA-led Western Cape for trying to keep the people of this province safe when he's failed,” he said.
“What's also very interesting is that [Cele] attacks the DA-led Western Cape. Well, isn't it interesting that the president of this country [decided] to move to the DA-led Cape Town because he was so impressed by the quality of services that he built his multimillion-rand mansion here?”