Avatar photo

By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


‘It does not fit his mandate’: Cele slated for using state helicopter to flying in to ANC event

Police Minister Bheki Cele’s arrival at the ANC’s election manifesto in a South African Police Service (Saps) helicopter was an act outside his constitutional mandate, according to experts.


Police Minister Bheki Cele’s arrival at the ANC’s election manifesto in a South African Police Service (Saps) helicopter was an act outside his constitutional mandate, according to experts. A video showcasing this sparked criticism with South Africans accusing him of abusing state resources. Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the Saps chopper had been deployed to the ANC manifesto launch to monitor the large crowd, and was not for Cele’s personal use. “The Natjoints [national joint operational and intelligence structure] as the operational arm of the JCPS [justice, crime prevention and security] cluster are responsible for the safety and security of all…

Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism

Access PREMIUM news, competitions
and exclusive benefits

SUBSCRIBE
Already a member? SIGN IN HERE

Police Minister Bheki Cele’s arrival at the ANC’s election manifesto in a South African Police Service (Saps) helicopter was an act outside his constitutional mandate, according to experts.

A video showcasing this sparked criticism with South Africans accusing him of abusing state resources.

Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the Saps chopper had been deployed to the ANC manifesto launch to monitor the large crowd, and was not for Cele’s personal use. “The Natjoints [national joint operational and intelligence structure] as the operational arm of the JCPS [justice, crime prevention and security] cluster are responsible for the safety and security of all major events in the country, according to the Sasrea [Safety at Sports and Recreational Events] Act,” she said.

“Various law enforcement agencies led by the Saps pull resources together to ensure all events are incident- and crimefree.

“It is against this background that the co-chair of the Natjoints, who is also the deputy national commissioner responsible for visible policing and operations in the Saps, will ensure adequate deployment of police resources to ensure heightened patrols in the form of foot, vehicle and air support.”

ALSO READ: Cadre deployment not scandalous if competent people are appointed

‘Police were blatantly and deliberately misleading public’

However, crime activist Ian Cameron said the police were blatantly and deliberately misleading the public in the excuses it made for Cele’s stunt, which fit within his policy mandate.

“He is not involved in any form of operation. He shouldn’t be involved in guiding operations of the police – that does not fit into his mandate,” he said.

“The brigadier said the Natjoints were responsible for safety and security and he was fulfilling his mandate. She’s deliberately misleading.”

Cameron said the Saps could not improve or change if there was constant interference on an operational level by the minister. “We need to start questioning the point of a national commission, or commission of any sort, because why do we have commissioners and a national commission if the minister believes he’s an operational member?

“His main focus should be to represent the civilian police secretariat and to influence, guide and develop policy and strategy for the police as a portfolio.”

ALSO READ: SAPS says Bheki Cele did not use police chopper in his personal capacity at ANC event

‘Saps will only become effective when it is highly professionalised’

Head of justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, said the Saps would only become effective when it was highly professionalised and insulated from any political interference or influence.

“As soon as people not trained as police officers start getting involved in operational decision-making, directing resources without fully understanding the impact or what the risks might be, you generally have a problem.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) called for Cele to be billed in his personal capacity. DA shadow minister of police Andrew Whitfield said Cele’s helicopter stunt was a gross abuse of state resources, and he should be made to pay for every flight minute. The party also called for a full internal investigation to review the process that authorised the use of the helicopter by Cele.

“All the Saps officers across the chain of command who signed off on this irregular use of a police asset should be subjected to a disciplinary process,” he said. “State resources, including Saps assets, should never be used for party political events. “By commandeering a helicopter from the Saps Airwing Unit, Cele displayed an arrogant sense of entitlement that has become the hallmark of ANC politicians.”

NOW READ: The ANC will return to power, says Mashatile

Read more on these topics

African National Congress (ANC) Bheki Cele

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits