Call for probe as Cele uses SAPS chopper at ANC event

Police Minister Bheki Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele

Published Feb 26, 2024


The SAPS has defended Police Minister Bheki Cele’s use of a police chopper during the weekend’s ANC manifesto launch in Durban, saying he was conducting his constitutional duties.

However, security expert Willem Els told the “Cape Times” sister title, “The Star”, that Cele struggled to differentiate between political office and operational office.

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

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 South Africa, 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 together resources to ensure all events were without 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.”

Else said ever since he took over as police minister, Cele 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 the alleged abuse of the usage of the chopper should be thoroughly investigated.

The DA, meanwhile, 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. “We are calling for a full SAPS investigation to review the decision-making process that authorised the use of the helicopter by the minister,” the party added.

Cape Times

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