ANC national executive committee member Bheki Cele has accused his own party of unintentionally endorsing attacks on the police by criminals and communities with its anti-racism, anti-police brutality campaign.
Cele, who is also the police minister, delivered a public lecture on Thursday on behalf of the eThekwini region on the role of ANC members in the fight to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister said he was not happy to hear the ANC “shout police brutality”, without inviting the policing sector to have a say.
The ANC launched the campaign, which included Black Friday last week, where the country and the party’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, spoke out against the racism and brutality meted out to citizens by the security cluster.
Ramaphosa’s comments came on the back of visuals of white American police killing George Floyd, an African American, during an arrest in Minneapolis last month. And this came as the country’s own defence force faces an allegation of having killed Alexandra resident Collins Khosa in his home.
“Two officers were captured and put in a shack, and people were ready to burn them. They shouted, ‘we are revenging police brutality’. This might be a good campaign, but you are in the territory of the criminals because they are going to take over this one,” warned Cele.
He said criminals would like to see communities going after the police – after which he said he expressed this in a conversation with the ANC’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, and called for more discussion on the campaign.
Cele, who has become a vociferous anti-alcohol voice in the country, said if he had his way it would remain banned.
The sale of alcohol resumed at the beginning of June under alert Level 3.
“It was inappropriate to open alcohol now, I didn’t know there were leakers in Cabinet who went out, and said so and so said this in the meeting, and so and so said that… but we should have delayed it and allowed Covid-19 people their space and for people that are sick to get their space,” said Cele, referring to media leaks on the Cabinet meeting.
Cele also mentioned Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, who had told parliament he disagreed with the ban on liquor, and questioned his concerns over the R1 billion of lost revenue, when it could cost the country up to R38 billion in health costs, due to treating traumas linked to alcohol.
He said crime fighting had benefitted from the lockdown as there was increased police visibility, which also saw the country experiencing no cash heists and robberies.
Cele said that Inanda in KwaZulu Natal had led in rape cases, many of which, according to their research, happened around shebeens, with both the rapists and their victims coming from liquor outlets.
“We have been having zero rapes since the lockdown – a buyile manje (they have returned),” said Cele.
He said KZN was the country’s murder capital during the lockdown, but the resumption of alcohol has seen the Western Cape take over that position.
“The hotspots of crime and Covid-19 are the same. As those that are shot and injured run to hospital, the people that are positive also run to hospital, so the Western Cape is clogged more than any other (province),” he said.
300 police arrested under lockdown
Cele said the police also apprehended their own, claiming that they did not cover up for those found to be transgressing the law.
The minister said the actions of police officers were monitored by organisations like the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
Describing them as “naughty”, he said 300 officers had been apprehended, most of whom were caught for stealing alcohol and cigarettes confiscated in raids or roadblocks.
“We are very comfortable to say police that get out of the way we are able to respond to,” said Cele.