Police minister Bheki Cele parades around beaches with a coterie of senior officers to yell at the occasional surfer, boater, or bikini-clad sunbather. At the same time, police stand impotently by while people are killed, beheaded, and burnt.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have come at a surprise. What was the best that could happen when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a minister of police who was so dodgy that even former President Jacob Zuma fired him?

Bheki Cele has no qualifications whatsoever to lead or oversee the South African Police Service. He is a teacher by profession. Perhaps fittingly, he treats citizens like naughty schoolchildren.

A jumped-up little martinet, his patrols of beaches in the Western Cape resemble nothing so much as a headmaster sneaking around behind the back of the outbuildings to catch illicit smokers in the act.

Witness the honourable minister posing for photo opportunities overlooking the empty beaches of Mossel Bay, pointing accusingly at a couple of jet skiers and some people who took their leisure boat out to sea, presumably to catch some prize Covid behind the surf.

He is always surrounded by a platoon of police officers, several of which are styled ‘general’ after Cele reintroduced military ranks to the police. Even then, he is not up to the gruelling task of being the chief beach warden.

Storming the beaches

Reportedly, ‘suspects’ that have been arrested for disregarding beach closure regulations on the West Coast were European tourists. Presumably this put Cele in mind of a foreign invasion force storming our beaches, so he called upon the South African National Defence Force to send in the troops.

While Cele was busy trading niceties with local councillors and random tourists in sleepy coastal towns, over in Shalcross, south of Durban, an alleged drug lord who goes by the suggestive moniker Teddy Mafia – real name, Yaganathan Pillay – got shot.

His lieutenants, helpfully identified by police brigadier Jay Naicker as ‘the community’, apprehended the killers, shot them, hacked off their heads, and burnt their bodies in the street.

The police were called to the scene, as one might expect, but they could only stand and watch while ‘community members’ kept them at a distance by pelting stones at them.

Losing faith

Perhaps it is no wonder that people are losing faith in the police. As explained by Gerbrandt van Heerden of the Centre for Risk Analysis, fewer and fewer people even bother to report crimes to the police anymore.

The number of crime victims who report crimes to the police is low and declining, according to the results of the Stats SA Victims of Crime Survey published on 1 December 2020.

The number of house robbery victims who failed to report any incidents to the police increased from 40.1% in 2018/19 to 45.5% in 2019/20. Only about half of all housebreaking incidents are reported, with 51.8% in 2018/19 and 48.3% in 2019/20 failing to report any incidents to the police.

Motor vehicle theft is often reported for insurance purposes, but even then, the number of victims who reported none of their incidents skyrocketed from 13.7% to 21.3% in the year under investigation.

Only a third of people report theft of personal property to the police. Four in ten report street robbery, which is about the same as the number of victims who report assault to the police. Only a quarter of consumer fraud victims reported any cases to the police, down from almost half the year before.

The percentage of people who reported sexual offences against them plummeted to 60% from 88% the year before.

Police incompetence

Years ago, when I still lived in Johannesburg, I was tied up at knifepoint and robbed by three men while at home. I was lucky not to get my throat cut. While the police were taking my statement, a call came in on their radios about a similar robbery only a block or two away, with suspects that fitted the description. I drew their attention to this, thinking they would drop everything and race after the suspects, but no, they morosely continued with the laborious task of badly paraphrasing my testimony.

Six months later, I received a call from the police, asking whether I would like the case to be investigated. Needless to say, my own confidence in the competence of the police to investigate crimes and catch perpetrators did not improve.

Van Heerden points to the shock acquittal of the two accused in the Coligny murder trial as a case in point. Pieter Doorewaard and Philip Schutte were convicted of the gruesome assault and murder of the 17-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu, allegedly after the victim was caught stealing sunflowers. In November last year, the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the convictions, citing incompetence in the police investigation as a reason.

The frequent burning of trucks on South Africa’s highways is another reminder that the police simply do not have a handle on crime. After the latest incident, the acting provincial commissioner, Major-General Patricia Rampota, reportedly ordered ‘the urgent mobilisation of maximum resources towards finding the perpetrators responsible’.

What has this massive investigation uncovered six weeks later? Bupkes.

Sunbathing criminals

Watching Bheki Cele prance about the beaches looking for girls in bikinis to harass cannot possibly contribute to the confidence that the public has in the police. Bedecked in a snazzy befeathered fedora, Cele prefers the media spotlight to be on him and his ‘generals’ cracking the whip on petty crime, rather than on the failure of the police to combat serious crime.

More than ten years ago, Cele told his minions ‘shape up or ship out’, ‘stomach in, chest out’, and ‘when you walk down the street, people must envy your body’. Today, Cele’s officers need taxpayer-funded quadbikes to pursue the sunbathing criminals they discover on their beach patrols.

Why this self-centred petty tyrant occupies the exalted and richly remunerated office of Minister of Police is a mystery. It certainly isn’t to make any of us safer.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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29 COMMENTS

  1. I almost forgot, there was also the time a police officer pointed a gun at me and told me to shut up white man.

  2. “Gruesome assault” of the alleged sunflower thief? Really?

    He fell off the back of a bakkie. There was no assault involved.

    The person who alleged that there was an assault, was nowhere near the scene and admitted that he lied. There was no evidence of blood stains, bullet casings or any other forensic evidence backing up the alleged assault either.

    • There was no case and the L & L (left and liberals) just can’t accept it. Wonder when are we going to see the court cases of those that destroyed the property in Coligny.

  3. I got robbed of my phone at gunpoint. Phone stayed on until delivered to the shop, so I knew exactly at what shop it ended up. I went to the police to report armed robbery and all they told me to get IMEI and some other number from my provider. They completely ignored the fact that I was threatened with a weapon and that I know shop where phone ended up. When I insisted that it was armed robbery, they continued to insist on IMEI so they can flag the phone, completely missing the point that someone put gun in my face. I guess if they took my money, police would insist on serial numbers, everything but to investigate the actual crime.

    Two years ago, gate motor was stolen. Called the police, they ignored the call, security company eventually got police patrol to come, they took my statement and left. That evening I got call from security company that they found the thief and my motor and handed them over to police, they gave me all details, name, police station, case number … went to police station just to be told that person with that name was apprehended and released as there was no evidence of crime.

    Useless, why bother.

    And, about the title, Cele cannot undermine faith in police, that faith simply does not exists.

    • @ Andre: No doubt a SADTU teacher. Those who refuse to undergo assessment nor any form of continuing education for fear of being found out as incompetent. A parliament job pays much better. All it takes is undying party loyalty which is a piece of cake (lots of it).

      • “loyalty” in ANC-terms is remunerating the awarder of a state contract with 50% of the awarded value.

        Standard ANC business practices.

  4. I’d forgotten that Cele had been fired by Zuma. Says a lot about the standards of the current bunch.

  5. “General” Cele has almost completed his task of transforming the police. When “Generals” outnumber Constables he will be entitled to claim success.

  6. Yeah, I saw the Morning Shot yesterday suggest Cele was targeting minorities – all part of the NDR and stuff. (Shakes head at what that podcast have become and what it taps into…)

    Whilst a far better take is that this behaviour is indicative of how badly service delivery has collapsed – including policing. The state is only present in some big urban centres – elsewhere the void is increasingly filled by crime, local political strongmen & their networks and a culture of anarchy. Susequently the police have even less authority to no authority in these places where the only meaningful state presence is often reduced to grants despensing centres. The symbolism is rich here in terms of the police trying to project authority and a presence in the few areas it can institutionally still afford to do so and where it probably will not be met by stones / protest. Good stuff – Ivo…

    This far from some libertarian dream world is one of the biggest threats to South Africa…A collapsing state and basic social contract & services.

  7. Giving himself the status to dish out military ranks to police operatives is merely a way of greasing the palms of chosen cronies at the taxpayer’s expense without cost to himself.
    Why should that concern him? The taxes are paid by Whites alone, 11% of the population, and those in Govt have no concept of what “public money” is or the purpose of improvement of public facilities for which it is set aside in truly “democratic” systems – certainly not a “free for all” from which the ruling party buys votes and individual politicians dish out to their family and cronies.

  8. That is not true. There is a large black middle class that pays income tax. And everyone pays VAT, the fuel levy, etc.

    Also, ‘whites’ last took an initial capital under Apartheid. Don’t be racist.

    • Ivo

      Yes you are correct, but let’s ignore the race rubbish and focus instead on the non-racial category of “income tax”?

      How many income tax payers are private sector and how many are public sector?

      Public sector employees consume tax, thus their income tax is not actually income to the fiscus, its simply moving chairs around the lounge.

      Actual, real income tax, is what is removed from the private sector – and that is the important section. How much money, real money, is the government actually getting. My thought would be a lot less than reported.

      What do you reckon?

      • Hi Ivo

        I would also like very much to know this.
        How much money is actually coming in before they start feeding at the trough.

        Another exercise that would prove useful is breaking that down into the amount spent on actual services delivered (percentage wise) and how much is wasted on supporting them. (Excluding outstanding debt and loan repayment interest)

        The actual bottom line of what they us as tax payers vs what they provide to us in services.

        I think that figure would shock the hell out of people.

        10 billion for this, a few billion for that…. The large majority do not understand what this means.

        Maybe a simple cost vs reward analysis would be more effective in helping people understand.

  9. It’s getting tough out there and 2021 is going to be the worst one yet.
    Thanks for this article, I don’t agree 100% with all you said however I do get the point.

  10. What angers me is that those who lied about the 2 accused of murder at the Coligny trail got no punishment …. yet 2 guys nearly went to jail for life because of those lies !!! What is the Justice department doing to punish those who lie under oath ??

  11. “Perhaps it is no wonder that people are losing faith in the police.” No, not losing faith, completely lost any faith, hope etc. many years ago when it became obvious that each citizen is on their own when it comes to crime. I have a theory that crime committed against police members today is the result of their total lack of protecting citizens from crime or adequately investigating any crimes for decades. The criminals realised that the police will not or cannot do anything about them so they now also target the police. The current grandstanding about how sacrilegious it is to commit crimes against the police is ridiculous because it is the police that enabled this culture. Then we are told that crimes against the police are extremely heinous. Worse than crimes against ordinary citizens? Why are ordinary citizens seen as lesser beings? This logic truly makes no sense.

  12. Ivo

    Maybe go check out how many senior officers in the SAPS are still serving despite serious criminal convictions?

    Cele himself was the subject of a major fraud which was never investigated – which is why Zuma let him go.

    Unfortunately, and much to the detriment of the good cops out there, there are simply far too many bad cops.

  13. In my local Village the police have decided that they may be under some kind of threat. I assume that is why they have spent a considerable amount of money erecting high concrete palisade walling topped by razor wire. It’s scary when the police indicate that they are afraid of the criminals.

    • The police are only second rate petty gangsters. Slovenly extortion is their speciality. They are right to be afraid of real gangsters😂

  14. Well said Zoo Keeper, Cele the teacher Zuma/ families and others the list is long with fraud, money laundering…. not to forget the Ace saga it has been going on for years! Merde!!!

  15. My husband was stopped in a road block and asked to get out of the car. My then seven year old daughter got out along with him. The police woman started screaming that the child should be left in the car at which point my little girl burst into tears. The cop then told her if she didn’t stop crying they would ‘throw daddy in jail’.
    After 15 minutes of harrassment, they were allowed to go as they had done nothing wrong. Criminalizing citizens and terrorizing children is just about all they’re good at.

  16. As an associated “fun fact”, Independent Newspapers, a couple of days ago, ran a “Cabinet 2020 Performance Scorecard”. Most ministers got a rating of “Just Average” at 3/5, but Cele was awarded 4/5 (Nobody got a 5/5 or a 0/5). Not quite sure why!

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