Bheki Cele tells police to ’protect themselves’ after ‘reckless’ Julius Malema threats
Johannesburg - Police Minister General Bheki Cele has called on police officers to protect themselves following “reckless, irresponsible and dangerous statements” made by EFF leader Julius Malema at the weekend.
On Sunday, Malema, while addressing party supporters, complained that the police had been colluding with the white community and abused EFF supporters in recent protests against racism at Senekal and in Brackenfell in Cape Town.
Malema said the party would retaliate by visiting cops individually in their homes.
“If SA police want a fight they must declare it. We will treat them the same way we treated them in the ’80s.
“We will not only fight them at the picket lines. We will go to their homes and fight them in their own houses with their own families,” Malema said.
Cele condemned Malema’s comments with disgust and said they were reckless, irresponsible and dangerous statements.
Cele called on police officers to protect themselves and said he was confident that if possible were required to, they would be able to defend themselves should they come under attack.
“I think the EFF leader has crossed the line, you are not going to threaten the police and think they will just fold their arms.
“The job of the police is clear and is prescribed in the Constitution, which is to protect, prevent, combat and investigate crime.
“Police are also there to uphold and enforce the law, so no one has the right to threaten the police when they conduct their work,” said Cele.
Cele said Malema was advocating for violence against police officers and their families and wanted to assure South Africans that the SAPS would not take such threats lightly.
“The threat to the lives of police members and their families will not be tolerated, officers of the law should never be used as bait for political mileage,” said Cele.
Meanwhile, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) earlier condemned Malema’s threats.
Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said Malema’s remarks were dangerous and irresponsible.
“Just as he has done before, verbally attacking the character of our men and women in blue in September for acting out their duties, to an extent where he even labelled their boots as stinky, he has this time around taken his insults to another level, wherein he is encouraging direct violence against members of the SAPS and their families,” Mamabolo said.
He accused Malema of indirectly calling for lawlessness.
“For a person like Mr Malema, who is also a public representative, to stoop so low and put the lives and families of law enforcement officers at such potential risk is highly irresponsible.
“This also happens at a time when we have been pleading with the populace to assist in the fight against police killings, which are on the rise,” Mamabolo said.