Minister of Police Bheki Cele. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).
Excitement resonated across the country when Bheki Cele was announced as the new police minister in February 2018.

Lots of hope was rested on his shoulders for this important portfolio. After all, he made criminals shake in their boots when he ordered his forces to “shoot to kill” when he was still a police commissioner.

This statement proved to be controversial in some quarters as it was seen as a call for police to use excessive force. It was an understandable outcry as, at the time, the country was still reeling from the horrors of the Marikana massacre and other violent incidents that tainted the image of our men and women in blue.

Fast forward to 2019, and nothing much has changed under Cele’s leadership. Yes, he successfully fought cash-in-transit heists, but surely our flamboyant minister can do much better.

Just yesterday our beloved Gauteng was engulfed in flames caused by looters who attacked mainly foreign-owned spaza shops in the Joburg CBD. It took only a few hours before the violence spread like wildfire to areas like Tembisa, Germiston and Turffontein. Tshwane also witnessed chaotic scenes as taxi drivers took on suspected drug dealers and users in the CBD. All this happened as the parents of Amy-Lee de Jager were dealing with the shock after their daughter was snatched by four thugs outside her school yesterday. 

In Cape Town, the week started with the devastating news of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana's rape and murder sparking outrage over the scourge of femicide in our country.

Crime is out of hand and it looks like our police are struggling to deal with it, as we watch in horror. Perhaps we’ve come to expect a lot from “Mr Stomach-In and Chest-Out”, but the blame cannot be purely put on him.

Someone should take responsibility for shortages of detectives and vehicles at crucial police stations in and around the Joburg CBD. According to a statement by MPL Jack Bloom, DA Joburg East Constituency head, Jeppe police station is short of 18 detectives and 11 vehicles, while Cleveland is short of 10 vehicles and two detectives.

Added to these deadly shortcomings is the fact that thousands of our police officers cannot handle their firearms. In May it was reported that 4 556 officers failed to complete their firearms competency tests in the Western Cape.

It’s about time our police - including the minister - jack up their act. They should not allow criminals to hold us hostage. Enough is enough.