Cameron v/s Cele – facts v/s insults…

South Africa’s Police Minister Bheki Cele hurled personal insults at crime fighter-turned-politician Ian Cameron at a heated community meeting in gang-infested Hanover Park this week. Cele went as far as to question Cameron’s intelligence. This after Cameron questioned investigations being done poorly and leadership in SAPS being broken while Cele boasts of successful arrests, but without successful convictions. Cameron – who is heading to Parliament for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) – says Cele’s response proves that he has “no clue about policing”. In this interview with BizNews, Cameron also shares a list of names of murder victims he hopes will haunt Cele every time he closes his eyes.

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Summary of the interview

Ian Cameron, representing the opposition Democratic Alliance, engaged in a heated exchange with South Africa’s Minister of Police, Bheki Cele. Cameron criticized the inefficiency and poor leadership within the South African Police Service (SAPS), highlighting the lack of successful convictions despite numerous arrests. Cele responded with personal insults, suggesting Cameron lacked understanding of police responsibilities.

Their confrontation occurred during a community meeting in Hanover Park, a region plagued by rampant crime, especially gang violence. Despite government initiatives like the Anti-Gang Unit, the situation has deteriorated, with police resources inadequately allocated and senior officers allegedly colluding with gangsters.

Cameron emphasized the dire reality on the ground, where murders remain unsolved, and communities endure constant violence. He chastised Cele for his detachment from the harsh realities faced by ordinary citizens and criticized his leadership as incompetent and out of touch.

The community’s frustration was palpable, evident in their dismissive treatment of Cele during the meeting. Despite promises and grand announcements, little tangible progress has been made in combating crime.

Looking ahead, Cameron remains resolute in holding authorities accountable and advocating for effective policing. He acknowledges the challenges within SAPS, from inadequate resources to leadership failures, and vows to continue advocating for change.

As Cameron and Cele’s feud escalates, it underscores broader issues within South Africa’s law enforcement and political landscape. The clash highlights the urgent need for meaningful reforms to address crime and restore public trust in the police force.

Extended transcript of the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Chris Steyn (00:02.288)

The Minister of Police has resorted to personal insults to counter crime fighter Ian Cameron, who is heading to Parliament for the Opposition Democratic Alliance. Ian is here now. Welcome, Ian.

Ian Cameron (00:13.543)

Thank you, Chris.

Chris Steyn (00:15.952)

I mean, exactly what did he say to you?

Ian Cameron (00:19.047)

It was quite concerning because to many people it seemed like gibberish, but Minister Cele responded again. It was very similar to the previous time. I spoke at the very end of the discussion after all the insults hurled at him from the community. I literally just questioned the fact that investigation work is done so poorly and leadership is so broken in SAPS that he shouldn’t come and sit here and tell us about all the successful arrests, but we never see successful convictions. And his response then was not to anyone else in the hall. He then said something like, I am a DA Afro man, something. I’m not completely sure if it was meant to be an insult. I don’t, I’m not 100% sure what his ideas were. But the interesting thing is that he then went on to say that if I were a bit brighter or not very bright, if I knew better, I would know that his department’s not responsible for convictions. And boom, he puts his foot in it again. He proves to us that he has got no clue about policing. Bheki Celeis completely incompetent. If he was worth anything as a police minister, he would know that without decent investigation, without all the relevant work that is done before you get to a conviction, the police plays an absolutely integral role in that. And let’s use murder as an example, we can talk about detail now, but remember that about eight out of 10 murders in South Africa are not solved. So I actually wanna go as far as saying that if you wanna kill someone, do it in South Africa, because you’ll get away with it.

Chris Steyn (01:58.864)

Now, Ian, you were not the one hurling insults; members of a community were. What were they saying to him?

Ian Cameron (02:08.039)

It was a very sad evening in my opinion, because there were, apart from the insults, it was clear that there’s a lot of political division amongst these communities, especially communities that are affected by violent crime. And that’s sad to me because, and I wanted to say, I tried to say, but I was cut short with time that in that specific community, a lot of the people in the Cape Flats always say, Jou kind is my kind, your child is my child. And I tried to convey that, hey, we all, all of our children are at risk of having this happen to them. All of us face this horrible danger. Yes, we can differ politically sometimes, but let’s agree on one thing. We need to solve this crime issue. So it was sad to see that because, you know, they were fighting with each other often. But then in terms of Minister Cele, when he walked onto the stage, everyone started booing him. They completely disregarded every answer that he gave.

And I must say that 90 % of the answers that he gave were very poor. It was clear that he was not prepared to actually speak in that community. It was very clear that he was, I don’t know if he was tired, if he’s burnt out, if he’s anxious, depressed, what’s wrong with him? But psychologically, he looks tired. And it was almost as though he wasn’t completely present. He looked like an old man.

And I don’t mean in an offensive way, he just looked moeg, you know, as though it’s time to step down, which obviously I think it is time to do. Yeah, so the community was angry. At the rate at which people are killed, you know, Cele over the weekend told people there that the Cape Flats gets the majority of police resources and he compared it to the rest of the country. And that’s utter, utter nonsense, you know.

The Anti-Gang Unit, let me give you an example in the Cape Flats, doesn’t have two-way radios. So for the past three weeks, I’ve been campaigning about this and fighting for them for radios. Last night I’m informed they received radios, but they only got four radios and only the commanders are allowed to book out the radios. So that’s just one example. So the Anti-Gang Unit now for years on end is commanderless, doesn’t have a commander. So if it was a priority, they would at least have those resources.

The list goes on. The point is just that those were amongst the issues raised by the community.

Chris Steyn (04:36.56)

And this happened in Hanover Park where crime is completely out of control. What is the situation on the ground there?

Ian Cameron (04:44.327)

Well, let’s quantify it. If you go look throughout South Africa at the moment, we’ve got about almost 31,000 murders per year if we’re going on at the current rate. It’s about almost 87 murders per day. That is quite something. This is war zone statistics you’re talking about. As I said earlier, only about eight out of 10 murders go unsolved. So…that means, according to the Institute for Security Studies, only 14.5% of murders are actually solved. So, Cele came on and he said, yo, we’ve made 188,000 arrests, but he never talks about the convictions. And that’s what I explained earlier. And if you go look on the ground, and I actually wanted to mention names, I’m gonna read it to you. I wrote a few names. I said to him, I wanted to say to him, I literally want the faces of the deceased people I’m gonna read to you now to haunt you when you close your eyes. I want you to, when you close your eyes, see Bokgabo Poo’s face. Little four-year-old girl murdered in Gauteng, Mia Botha, Paarl, Chevonne Rusche, Aqeela Schroeder in Delft, Cleo Diko, Cape Town, Siphokazi Booi in Mbekweni, and the list goes on. And I wanted to say to him that these are real people. If you look at this community in Hanover Park, these are real human beings facing this. They are not just numbers. And it’s as though he looks at them as just statistics. He kind of looks lost as though he’s on another planet. The situation on the ground, and I want to approach it from a different angle, is obviously we know it’s bad, but it’s gotten to the point where the shooting is just constantly going on; in fact sometimes gangsters shoot literally just discharge pistols in the air; just for shooting to intimidate the community to stay off the streets; that type of thing…they literally own some of these areas and the growth of some of these gangs has just been absolutely horrific to see and then what we find is as soon as a child gets hurt the police don’t dispatch in a way that they go and kick down doors to catch the killer or to find the child, they rather get Public Order Policing to police the community in case the community should start getting, you know, I don’t know, some kind of unrest or protest or something. So the feeling on the ground is not good and just in terms of the amount of violence is terrible. It was also sad for me, so I’m saying a mouthful, but it was also sad for me to see how misinformed a lot of people are. They were hurling insults, for example, at the City of Cape Town, where the City of Cape Town Metro, in my opinion, with very limited mandate to actually fight crime, has literally pushed millions upon millions of rands into operating in these areas. I mean, I spent the entire afternoon before going to that meeting in Hanover Park with the Metro Police Gang and Drug Task Team in Manneburg and in Steenberg. And incredible, super professional, well-resourced, vehicles work, they’re proud of their uniforms, they have integrity, but they themselves say that they are dependent on SAPS functioning properly because they can do the arrest, but as soon as they hand it over, they don’t have investigative powers, so what happens when the docket needs to go to court? So there’s a misperception about how policing resources works, and it’s a difficult situation.

Chris Steyn (08:21.136)

Well, wasn’t it in Hanover Park where in 2018 the Minister of Police and President Cyril Ramaphosa launched with great fanfare the Anti-Gang Unit, if I could recall correctly.

Ian Cameron (08:32.743)

Yes, and they, yeah, it was with great fanfare just before an election and nothing came of it. I spoke to members of AGU, the Anti-Gang Unit last night, and they are literally depressed. They are, they feel depressed. You know, stations are getting new vehicles all over the place, but Anti-Gang has these old broken vehicles. They don’t have resources. They don’t know who they can trust. So many of their commanders, or rather not commanders, they don’t have a commander at the moment, but their senior officers have been found to be in cahoots with some of the senior and dangerous gangsters. You’d remember at BizNews conference last year in Drakensberg, I shared the photo of a member of one of the Numbers gangs, a hitman for them while posing in an Anti-Gang police vehicle, showing his gangs, you know. So it’s common knowledge that many of the senior cops are in the pockets of gangsters. Obviously junior cops sometimes too, but, you know the fish rots from the head and if we don’t chop that snake’s head off it’s not going to change. So there is no political will from national government to tackle the gang and Cape Flats violence issue. And it was clear as daylight to me the other night that Minister Bheki Cele has completely removed from reality. When he got there again, whole entourage, I mean there were hundreds of cops outside; there were public order vehicles. Flying Squad had to escort him. I think there were five or six Flying Squad vehicles, if I’m not mistaken. The TRT unit was the provincial units, district, local. It’s actually embarrassing to see that he has the arrogance and the audacity to come to a function in a community that faces so much bloodshed with that kind of protection. So they have nothing but he can operate like that. It just boggles my mind.

Chris Steyn (10:34.224)

Now Ian, what message do you have for him in response to those insults he hurled at you?

Ian Cameron (10:39.815)

So look, to me, I think he makes a big mistake because he just keeps on adding fuel to the fire for himself. If I were him, I would just either focus on my job and I would ignore and not give someone like me the platform because he keeps on doing that and it’s a very silly mistake to make. But just in terms of the apology that Parliament has told him that he must give me, that he is now appealing, with a Speaker that is not a Speaker anymore, the irony in at all. So just in terms of that, I don’t actually want his apology. I think he should apologise to South Africa. I think Cele needs to apologise to all the parents that are burying their children. He should apologise to Sergeant Mahoney’s family as he was shot yesterday. Not because Cele can stop every shooting. That’s not what I’m saying, but his poor management and the fact that he’s pushed cadre employment in the South African Police Service to the point that he has, has literally caused bloodshed in police ranks as well. Don’t for one minute think, and I often see the comments on social media that the police are this or police are that. I’m the first person to call out the police, but I can vouch for thousands upon thousands of good people that wear that uniform that really do try hard, but they are have become so demotivated because of the leadership issue. And especially with someone like Cele. Do you know that when cops go to colleges and academies, they are taught that when you stand on parade, you keep quiet. Now Cele goes and stands on a podium and he shouts, hello, or good morning, you know, I’m up, whatever. And he shouts at them. And then when they don’t respond, he gets angry and he shouts at them again. So he doesn’t even understand basic rules and regulations and standing; he doesn’t understand how policing works. Completely out of his depth, he’s incompetent. I would have sacked him, but at least he should have the decency to just retire, as he can clearly see that he’s not worth anything in terms of his leadership of the Police Ministry.

Chris Steyn (12:53.68)

Well, if he survives the election and stays in Parliament, there’s bound to be some very interesting debates between the two of you. I don’t think he’s going to be very happy with you having a say in policy issues. Are you looking forward to that, Ian, or do you not expect to see him in parliament after the election?

Ian Cameron (13:12.039)

I think he will be there in some other capacity. I don’t really care if it’s him or not. To me, it’s about the fact that a minister needs to do their job and whoever needs to be held accountable should be held accountable. So whether it’s him or some other incompetent cadre, I will do what I need to do. I firmly believe that we shouldn’t put these people on pedestals. They are there to serve the people, not the other way around. And Cele is not doing us a favour by showing up, he’s doing his, he’s meant to do his job. So we need to hold him accountable to that. We pay his salary and he needs to behave as such. If we, if we just go, I mean, I’ll give you an example of typical things I’d raise with him. To use Saldanha Bay as an example, General  Dyantyi is the current district commander there in the West Coast. You know that up until now, I think we’ve spoken about it before, but it’s close to two years that he’s been living in a four-star hotel in Saldanha Bay at 57,000 odd per month. Despite all the complaints, despite the lack of resources in the area, despite the poor leadership in the area with regards to the police, it just continues. And they say it’s an operational decision. It’s shocking. General Mochologi; we’ve spoken about her in the Overstrand, Overberg area. Zero police experience, absolutely useless. The people that work under her are severely frustrated. There’s a whole list about her. We can go to General Tiyo, the previous Crime Intelligence Head of the Western Cape, lost his gun, Mbekweni, close to Paarl in the Western Cape. And instead of sacking him, he was just transferred to Head Office. And ever since he’s been booked off sick, so no one knows what’s happening. Him and other people that I’m told are not necessarily members of the police, literally went and they caught the suspects and they beat them to a pulp – and one of them is in a wheelchair now – to get the gun back and again the list goes on. So, you know, those are the things we need to talk about because there’s this oath of so-called secrecy in the police and no one speaks on behalf of the good people in the police. So to me, it’s an opportunity to be able to do that and then obviously represent South Africans being hurt.

Chris Steyn (15:31.792)

Thank you. That was Ian Cameron, crime fighter and a member of the Democratic Alliance speaking to BizNews. I’m Chris Steyn. Thank you, Ian.

Ian Cameron (15:41.191)

Thank you, Chris.

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