Mzansi weighs in on EFF case against Bheki Cele for alleged 'political interference'

11 January 2021 - 16:45 By Cebelihle Bhengu and Deepa Kesa
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Social media was buzzing with reaction after the EFF opened a criminal case against police minister Bheki Cele at the Sunnyside police station in Pretoria, accusing him of political interference and defeating the ends of justice.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was accompanied by Gauteng EFF officials on Monday to open a case against the minister. This emanates from the North Gauteng High Court ruling which revealed on Friday that the minister attempted to halt the suspensions of police officials who allegedly attempted to fraudulently procure personal protective equipment (PPE) last year.

TimesLIVE reported last week that Lt-Gen Peter Jacobs, Brig Albo Lombard, Col Isaac Walljee, Col Manogaran Gopal, Maj-Gen Maperemisa Lekalakala, and Col Bale Matamela were suspended between December 8 and 10 with full pay by the general commissioner, Khehla Sitole, after he mandated Lt-Gen Francinah Vuma on November 30 to investigate the allegations against the senior officials.

The officers were issued with notices of intention to suspend them and were invited to make submissions as to why they should not be shown the door.

The judgment revealed that Cele wrote two letters to Sitole on December 1 and 4. In the first letter, the minister asked that the inspector-general submit a report to him and halt the suspensions until its submission. In a second letter, Cele emphasised his position on the matter.

The officers challenged Sitole's decision, but the court ruled in his favour, saying he was legally obligated to suspend the officers.

Police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba told TimesLIVE: “Minister Cele is aware of the move by the EFF and will wait for processes to unfold.

“The minister is not involved in the awarding or allocation of any tenders in the police service.”

On Monday, Ndlozi told journalists outside the police station that the officers allegedly used the PPE tenders as a “get rich quick” scheme and called for a swift investigation.

“Once allegations of corruption have been made against officials within the police, or wherever in institutions of government, they have to be investigated without any interruption, without any fear or favour,” said Ndlozi.

The former party spokesperson said this was “a classic case of political interference” by the minister.

“It was a correct thing that the national police commissioner did, which was to suspend Lt-Gen Jacobs so that he does not interfere with the investigation, and the minister of police comes in, gives illegal instructions or telling the national commissioner of police not to suspend Jacobs, that in itself was an illegal instruction,” said Ndlozi.

On social media, some were unclear on the matter as they questioned what the minister did.

Others said Ndlozi's efforts would be in vain, saying “it will be another cold case”.

Here are some of the reactions:

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