Minister of Police Bheki Cele has slammed Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane for “talking about things he knows nothing about”, adding the police were not as under-resourced as he claimed.
Speaking at the opening of the new Dube police station in Winterveldt, north of Pretoria, the police boss was responding to the opposition leader’s claim, when visiting Dobsonville police station in Soweto earlier this month, that the police did not have the capacity to fight crime.
Cele said: “Crime has nothing to do with politics. But there is this person, Mmusi Maimane, who talks about the police service being under-resourced and not having enough police officers.
“We have a new police station. He should send his people here to see it, instead of talking about things he knows nothing about and saying there are no police stations.”
Maimane also suggested that vehicles owned by politicians should be handed over to the police service.
To this Cele retorted: “Look at all these police vehicles. He said [the Democratic Alliance] would take cars from politicians and give them to the police, but police officers drive the latest cars.
“We have GTIs, we have BMWs. Tell Mmusi when you see him that I say I will call him here to ask him: What are these? These are vehicles, aren’t they? He is campaigning about serious things that affect people,” Cele told a cheering crowd.
The new Dube police station has living quarters for officers and a new fleet of Golf GTIs and Nissan bakkies. The station will replace the satellite police station nearby.
While residents were excited about the new police station, some were more concerned about officers’ competence, claiming the police in the area were corrupt.
Resident Lesego Aphani said thieves were often released soon after they had been arrested, claiming this was because they had bribed police officers.
“The next day they break into your house again. The police here are actually the main contributors to crime,” she said.
Resident Thabang Lebese said officers sometimes used police vehicles to run personal errands.
“An officer forgets he left his windows open at home and takes the police car to go home to Hammanskraal to close his windows.
“When you come and report a crime, they tell you they don’t have vehicles. Or when, as a gay person, you report a rape case, they laugh and don’t take you seriously,” he said.
Democratic Alliance communications director Mabine Seabe reiterated Maimane’s claim about police resources.
“The police are severely under-resourced and understaffed and it requires political will to fix this. But police incompetence illustrates that they are more interested in keeping politicians safe. We [DA] will create an honest police service for the people.”