South Africa's Minister of Police Bheki Cele at memorial service at the Ngcobo Methodist Church, in the Eastern Cape. PHOTO: ANA Reporter

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Policing Union (Sapu) on Wednesday said it welcomes the appointment of General Bheki Cele as the new police minister.

President Cyril Ramaphosa named Cele - a former national police commissioner - in the new Cabinet earlier this week.

Sapu said it holds Cele in high regard because of "our engagements with him whilst he was the national police commissioner". 

In a statement, Sapu said: "General Cele proved his passion for policing although he was never a career police officer. We join thousands of law-abiding citizens who are excited about his appointment. 

"Already functionary members on the ground are looking forward to a minister that will walk with them in the difficult journey of combating crime."

Sapu said Cele must prioritise support for police officers when they face legal challenges regarding "unfortunate killings" of crime suspects. 

READ: Twitter reacts to #BhekiCele as Police Minister

"There is the Engcobo multi-disciplinary task team that was involved in the operation that led to the killing of seven suspects last Friday. We call on Minister Cele to avail the best legal minds for those officers as we are aware the Ipid [Independent Police Investigative Directorate] is probing that incident," said the statement.

"After dealing with the legal support for the Engcobo multi-disciplinary task team, we call upon Minister Cele to act swiftly in appointing a permanent divisional head of Crime Intelligence and head of the Hawks."

Sapu said Cele's appointment "is more of continuity as he is familiar with policing at a practical level. The moral of our members has been boosted by this appointment as members feel Minister Cele is one of our own. We hope to continue working with him as we did during his previous stint in the police". 

African News Agency/ANA