Covid-19: Heroes

Bheki Cele becomes our Dick Tracy

29 March 2020 - 00:00 By QAANITAH HUNTER
It's an irritation for Cele that his number is widely known, but it's become a resource to help contain the spread of Covid-19.
It's an irritation for Cele that his number is widely known, but it's become a resource to help contain the spread of Covid-19.
Image: THULI DLAMINI

Forget 10111. Police minister Bheki Cele's cellphone is the lockdown hotline.

At least eight arrests of those breaking the curfew came from tip-offs to Cele's phone.

It's an irritation for Cele that his number is widely known, but it's become a resource to help contain the spread of Covid-19.

"This thing of my number being known out there. it irritates but it helps more than it irritates," he said.

He is briefed regularly by police top brass, but "most of my information comes from my phone", Cele said in an interview.

Seven people who broke the curfew in Montclair, Durban, were arrested after a phone tip-off to Cele. Another was arrested north of Durban at Amaoti, Inanda. He was pushing a wheelbarrow carrying beer.

When Cele gets information, he tells Lt Gen Fannie Masemola, who heads the police's National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints). Orders for arrest follow.

Cele has been on the beat as the government tries to control the virus. Others have joined the fight.

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi told how he'd gone to the Beitbridge border post on Friday morning on a gut feeling that there would be trouble on the Zimbabwe border.

"I stay not far from the N1. When I saw the traffic going that way to the N1, I said this is a disaster. I phoned my acting [director-general].

"I said let's go to Musina. And we were spot on," he told the Sunday Times.

When Motsoaledi arrived at the border post, which is seen as a gateway to the rest of the continent, there were trucks parked bumper to bumper from the border, extending 10km southwards.

"I had to call my Zimbabwean counterpart and he had to call his Zambian counterpart to let people go over," Motsoaledi said.

Following his intervention, he said, some normality had returned to the border post by Friday evening.


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