Ethekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)
Durban - Backers and close confidantes of suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede have accused police minister Bheki Cele of abusing his power in order to ensure that the troubled mayor is arrested.

The supporters alleged that Cele’s appetite for the arrest of Gumede has undermined the fight against political killings in the province.

They made the allegations on Monday in Durban, where they had called a press conference to announce that, among other things, they would be taking the suspension of Gumede to court.

Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, dismissed the accusations by Gumede’s supporters as untrue.

“The ministry of police notes allegations from supporters and media briefings. Minister Cele is not involved with SAPS investigations. To this end, and in particular to the allegations levelled against the minister of police, as a general principle, please note investigators conduct themselves independently and objectively in any investigation working together with the National Prosecuting Authority. Any insinuation that Police Minister General Bheki Cele is behind the arrest of eThekwini mayor Ms Gumede is unfortunate, to say the least,” she said.

Reading a statement on Monday, the leader of the Gumede backers, Mzomuhle Dube, said the skirmish outside the Durban city hall last Thursday was a clear indication of how Cele was pursuing his agenda against Gumede and, in the process, compromising justice.

“This comrade (Bheki Cele) once came all the way from the highest level structure to contest the position of chairmanship here in eThekwini. We also heard that good intentions of trying to resolve political killings were being diluted by the obsession of trying to arrest the mayor at all costs,” Dube alleged.

“That’s why we have experienced brutality on the streets (during last week’s violent protest outside the Durban city hall) A lady walked in (during our arrest) and said charge these people, charge them for public violence and don’t give them bail and the General (Bheki Cele) wants the case number,” Dube alleged.

All this had led them to conclude that Cele was interfering in the work of the police, and that he should restrain himself and leave the duty to manage cases to police officials, he said.

“That’s why now we are able to conclude and say we have been experiencing these curious arrests, and most of them have actually disturbed properly intended investigations. You remember councillor (Sibusiso) Maphumulo from uMlazi was assassinated and people were arrested for a lengthy period of time, but eventually released,” Dube said.

Political Bureau