/ 16 October 2023

No need to axe police minister, says ANC

Bheki Cele 1510 Dv
Bheki Cele 2019 – present

The ANC has defended the performance of its deployee, Police Minister Bheki Cele amid calls for him to be fired, saying that it trusts and supports him.

Speaking on the sidelines of the party’s national executive committee meeting on Monday, ANC chair of the subcommittee on peace and stability, Polly Boshielo, said that it was unfair for Cele to be blamed for the lawlessness which has gripped the country. 

Several organisations, including civil society groups and opposition parties, have urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack Cele. 

In November 2022, the Democratic Alliance said he had ruined the South African Police Service. DA MP Andrew Whitfield — reacting then to Cele’s controversial statement encouraging police to shoot first and ask questions later — said this was inciting violence. 

“The litany of failures on the watch of Bheki Cele as police minister makes for shocking reading. It is a shameful indictment on President Ramaphosa that he has not held Cele accountable a long time ago. His failings have cost the lives, the dignity and the security of countless South Africans. President Ramaphosa must get rid of this shameful minister before more lives are lost,” Whitfield said.

In August, Cele presented crime statistics in parliament for the quarter 1 April to 30 June 2023 which showed that the murder rate had fallen by 3.1%, but the number of police officers killed had almost doubled. 

The number of sexual offences cases dropped by 2%  to 11 616, rape declined by 2.8% to 9 252, while incidents of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm rose by 8.2% to 37 491. Attempted sexual assault cases jumped 22.6% to 510.

Highlighting crimes against women and children, the statistics showed that murders rose 4.7% from 855 to 895, while those of children specifically climbed 20.6% to 293 over the three months. The attempted murder of women rose significantly — by 20.2% to 1 417 — while that of children increased by 15.3% to 354. 

“It’s unfair to put the blame on comrade Ndosi [Cele] when he is trying as much as possible to do the best he could do. As the ANC, we have trust in him and we are supporting him. Me and him have sleepless nights; it’s the ANC who said we don’t want any lawlessness and we are working hard to ensure that,” Boshielo said. 

She credited Cele for successes in other departments including home affairs, saying enhanced border management was part of the police minister’s efforts. 

“Let’s not talk about an individual as if he appointed himself. That is not for him to answer.  That is for us, as the ANC. If we were not happy with him, we would have taken action,” Boshielo said.