Internal ANC politics: Ramaphosa’s refusal to get rid of Cele

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield says President Cyril Ramaphosa should take responsibility for the state of safety and security in South Africa because he has refused to get rid of Police Minister Bheki Cele. He speaks to BizNews as Cele seems to have gone “underground” while the furore over VIP Protection Unit members assaulting unarmed civilians, rages on. The exposure of that has now resulted in an apparent death threat to an ex-cop in the security industry for sharing footage of the ”Blue Light Mafia” assault last week.  That threat read: “Good day we don’t take kind (sic) to the footage that you supplied to the media. You made a lot of enemies in specialised units, we will deal with you…” Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa “unfortunately appears dead set on keeping Minister Cele in this position”. But Whitfield warns that as long as Cele stays in his job, the country’s safety and security environment will deteriorate. He also slams SAPS’ use of spy grabber technology to illegally intercept communications from ordinary South Africans. – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:30 – Andrew Whitfields thoughts on the Blue Light Mafia Incident
  • 02:08 – On the death threat to an ex cop for leaking the footage
  • 03:46 – On how the minister of police still has a job
  • 05:21 – On the president’s refusal to let go of Bheki Cele
  • 06:31 – On SAPs being in possession of illegal spying equipment
  • 08:09 – On how far back this goes
  • 09:31 – On the police using the equipment to spy on civilians and journalists
  • 12:16 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the interview

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield says President Cyril Ramaphosa should take responsibility for the state of safety and security because he has refused to get rid of Police Minister Bheki Cele.

He speaks to BizNews as Cele seems to have gone “underground” while the furore over VIP Protection Unit members assaulting unarmed civilians rages on.

The exposure of that has now resulted in an apparent death threat to an ex-cop in the security industry for sharing footage of the ”Blue Light Mafia” assault last week. 

Read more: WANTED: Ian Cameron puts out an APB on Mashatile’s blue light thugs

That threat read: “Good Day we don’t take kind (sic) to the footage that you supplied to the media. You made a lot of enemies in specialized units, we will deal with you…”

Whitfield says there has been an increase in the culture of police brutality under Cele’s watch – and that the minister “at this point is complicit in everything that we’re seeing at the moment”.

Asked why he thinks Cele has managed to hang on to his job regardless, Whitfield says: “I can only imagine that it has something to do with internal ANC politics because on almost every single metric, the minister is failing. Violent crime is up across all violent crime categories by over 40%.

“I think it would be best placed to get the president to explain why he believes that Minister Cele should stay in that job. I haven’t met a single South African who believes that he’s doing a good job.

Read more: Ian Cameron on “General” Cele’s crime stats fantasy – and encouraging data from Western Cape

“And we have certainly engaged the president on a number of occasions to challenge him to replace the minister of police so that we can have some hope of turning (around) this culture of police brutality as well as incompetence – which is led by the minister himself…

“The president unfortunately appears dead set on keeping Minister Cele in this position – and as long as Minister Cele remains there I’m afraid our safety and security environment will deteriorate.”

Whitfield says the DA has written to the president, submitted questions, challenged him in Parliament, and made public calls for Minister Cele to go, but has had no formal responses to its formal correspondence.

“But the president does go out in public…he’s gone out in public and he said that the minister is doing a good job. It’s just completely confusing, I think, to the South African public that the president can stand up without any evidence to say that Minister Cele is doing a good job.”

Read more: Ban the blue light mafia – Ian Cameron

Whitfield also speaks to BizNews about SAPS’ use of “spy grabber technology without the appropriate exemptions to use that technology from the Minister of Justice and also potentially without the correct permissions from the RICA judge who would have to sign off on these interceptions. 

“Minister Cele was the National Police Commissioner around 10 years ago, and so I suspect that it may have even started then. The Minister should have known that he’s not allowed to use this technology. He was recently in fact in Parliament granted the exemption by the Minister of Justice but it’s too little too late for those illegal interceptions which were conducted by the police, and we now need to get to the bottom of this. We need to ensure that there’s a proper investigation. We need to hold those accountable, those people who made use of that technology to illegally intercept communications from ordinary South Africans.

“And I cannot imagine why the South African Police Service would go rogue and illegally intercept communications from South Africans unless it was for political purposes, especially journalists. So that is why we are taking it so seriously and we’ll be investigating this matter through the Parliament.”

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