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'Leave your offices and saturate the streets': Bheki Cele to cops amid rampant crime

27 May 2022 - 17:54
Police minister Bheki Cele engaging with the community of Jabulani in Soweto, Johannesburg on Friday, May 27 2022.
Police minister Bheki Cele engaging with the community of Jabulani in Soweto, Johannesburg on Friday, May 27 2022.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

Police minister Bheki Cele has ordered station commanders to leave their offices and attend to their communities, telling them if they are tired, they should leave their jobs.  

Cele was speaking on Friday at a community imbizo in Jabulani, Soweto, aimed at addressing burning crime issues. There was, however, a poor turnout at the event.

Those in attendance complained about missing dockets, unresolved rape and murder cases, ill-treatment and corruption by police, shielding of criminals and unavailability in some cases of station commanders, among other issues.

I agree with you that we have not done well
Bheki Cele, minister of police 

“We cannot have a situation where the community says it does not know their station boss. They must not have an office. They must be in the streets, speaking to the people.” 

Cele said commanders must “not sleep a wink when their communities are infiltrated by criminals”.

“Station commanders and their police must go and saturate the streets and leave their offices alone.” 

After listening to the residents' frustrations about rampant crime and corrupt police officers, Cele said he understood their plight and admitted that police had in many instances failed the people.

“I agree with you that we have not done well,” he said.

Cele revealed 73 people had been killed recently but that only 22 suspects had been apprehended for the murders. Eighty-nine people had been raped but only 35 had been arrested, and 20 houses in the precinct of Jabulani had been burgled but only two people were arrested.

“Therefore, it’s important that we find the killers and they must be equal to the number of murders. It’s important that everyone who rapes be found, there must not be anyone who rapes and get to sleep at their homes with their ankles up.

“ I understand your plight that we as police are not doing well,” he said.

A resident, Kefilwe Sedodi, raised concerns about drugs in the community and alleged that police were in cahoots with dealers. She threatened that residents would take the law into their own hands. 

“We are saying enough is enough. If we must take the law into our hands as the community then we will. If it means we must shut down Jabulani police station we will,” Sedodi said. 

Some residents lamented the activation of the 72-hour action plan in several high-profile cases when the same was not done for their loved ones, and in many cases suspects remained at large. 

“Why is it that you cannot do the same for us? Is it because we are poor or our families are not important? How do you get those leads in 72 hours when our cases even get closed without suspects being arrested?” asked a resident identified as Tebogo.  

Another resident called Kabelo also criticised Cele’s entourage and law enforcement vehicles guarding the area. 

“I counted more than 30 cars that are here for your protection, yet when we sometimes go to police stations we are told there are no cars. Who do you think is protecting us minister?” he said. 

To cheers from the crowd, Cele ordered provincial police commissioner Elias Mawela to establish a special team to be based at the Jabulani police station for a week to receive case numbers and details of rape and murder cases that have not been pursued.

He has also ordered officials to conduct an investigation into issues at Jabulani and Moroka police stations and compile a detailed report to be submitted to him in six months.

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