Cele found unfit to act as a commissioner, says security expert

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 25, 2024


Police Minister Bheki Cele struggles to differentiate between a political office and the operational office, security expert Willem Els told The Star.

Els’s comments follow the public outcry over Cele’s use of a SAPS chopper to attend a party event at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

Els said Cele needed to allow National Commissioner General Fannie Masemola and his team to perform their duties.

He further said ever since he took over as police minister, he seemed to forget that he was not the national commissioner anymore.

“Cele was fired as the national commissioner, in fact, he was found not to be fit to be a police commissioner.

“Then he was appointed as the minister, but one can see whenever there are operational matters, Masemola is always on the sideline, while Cele takes all the decisions and the lead on operational matters,” he added.

Els said this was not a very healthy situation to be in as the minister doesn’t have any policing background, nor is he trained as a police officer.

He further said Cele lacks the attitude and amplitude to be a general, adding that for him (Cele) to want to act as a police commissioner was unconstitutional.

Reacting to the incident, the DA called for Cele to be billed in his personal capacity for chartering the helicopter to the ANC’s manifesto launch.

The party believes that Cele’s helicopter stunt was an abuse of state resources.

“As such, Cele should be billed for every flight minute that the helicopter was in the air. Furthermore, we are calling for a full SAPS investigation to review the decision-making process that authorised the use of the helicopter by the minister.

“All the SAPS officers – across the chain of command – who signed off on this irregular use of a police asset, should be subjected to a disciplinary process,” the party added.

Els further said the issue of the abuse of the usage of the chopper should be thoroughly investigated, saying that the deployment of the air wing shouldn’t be used as personal transport of politicians as opposed to fighting crime.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said it was not true that Cele used the chopper for his personal use as he was there performing his duties as a minister.

“The Minister of Police, who’s responsible for the safety and security of all people living in SA, was at the time conducting his constitutional responsibility as a minister of police where he also advised and guided operations.

“It is not an isolated incident, in which the Minister guides and provides advice on measures that should be put in place to control large crowds during gatherings. The SAPS chopper, just like (for) any other major event, was deployed to this event to monitor the large crowds.

“During major events, the SAPS air wing, together with the overall operational commander, provide air support for members on the ground to advise and guide ground operations.

“Such measures are put in place to avert stampedes and any other life threats associated with major events,” Mathe explained.

She said this was consistent with many other big events which required that all enforcement agencies led by the SAPS pull resources together to ensure all events were incident- and crime-free.

“It is against this background that the co-chair of the Natjoints, who is the deputy national commissioner, is also responsible for visible policing and operations in the SAPS (and) will ensure adequate deployment of police resources to ensure heightened patrols in the form of foot, vehicle and air support.”