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The security cluster is functional, says under-fire police minister Bheki Cele

14 February 2022 - 20:05
Police minister Bheki Cele is adamant that the security cluster is functional. File image.
Police minister Bheki Cele is adamant that the security cluster is functional. File image.
Image: Jaco Marais

Police minister Bheki Cele continues to dig in his heels, insisting that the security cluster is fully functional.

This is despite a damning report by the expert panel on the July 2021 unrest putting the blame on the weaknesses in the cluster, especially Cele’s department, for failing to prevent — and the quickly react to — the devastating unrest.

Since July last year, the cluster has been under heavy attack from all quarters, with some calling for heads to roll, including Cele's.

But Cele says there is no dysfunctionality in the security cluster, making the bold declaration during the debate of the state of the nation address (Sona) on Monday.

It was at the same occasion that the EFF and DA vigorously argued that Cele was ripe for sacking for the mess within the police.

Cele says he is innocent and that all is not doom and gloom in the security cluster.

“Our security cluster is functional. This is why our prisons are full as we speak. Minister Lamola can attest to this. Those incarcerated criminals did not walk there on their own free will,” said Cele of his justice counterpart Ronald Lamola.

“It is through the work of capable law-enforcement officers that investigations were thorough, cases were presented in court and prosecutions took place to ensure lengthy sentences. Since April 2021 to date, 196 GBV accused have been handed down 272 life sentences,” Cele said.

The failures in the police have also been attributed to an apparent beef between Cele and police commissioner Khehla Sitole.

EFF leader Julius Malema said it was a blunder to appoint Cele as police minister in the first place when he had occupied the position of police commissioner. The appointment created fertile ground for Cele to compete with Sitole for power and control.

But Cele hit back at Malema, accusing him of plotting with Sitole for his removal.

According to Cele, Malema had secretly met Sitole to plot the minister’s removal — and he was willing to repeat it outside parliament, said Cele.

The police were hard at work and had shifted gears in taking down organised-crime syndicates trying to run a parallel government, he said.

“A national extortion team will be established and rolled out to the nine provinces that will focus on extortion at construction sites and business premises. We are also decisively dealing with kidnapping syndicates, through specialised teams, especially in Gauteng where this crime is most prevalent.

“An extortion steering committee based in the Western Cape is investigating robberies disguised as ‘protection fees’ or ‘radical economic transformation’ from extortionists.

“We know this crime is a motive for a series of multiple shootings in areas such as Khayelitsha and Gugulethu. Investigations into the root causes of the multiple murders also helps in cracking some of these murder cases.”



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