It would be folly to reinstate Cele as head of police

Posted 06 November 2014 Written by Business Day

Bheki Cele. Picture: SAPAThe recent murder of Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa has prompted calls for tougher action on violent crime, but it would be wrong to reinstate the cantankerous former police commissioner Bheke Cele to his former position argues Business Day.

The recent murder of Bafana Bafana’s stand-in captain, goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa has prompted a stream of calls for the government to take a much tougher line on crime. This is understandable given the public profile of the victim but some of the suggestions are at best ill-considered and irrational and at worst dangerous.

The most prominent and sustained in recent days have been calls for the reinstatement of the cantankerous former national police commissioner, Bheki Cele.

He is now deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. He left the police under a cloud of scandal after adverse and scathing findings by the public protector about his role in a controversial building lease.

A board of inquiry convened to examine his fitness for office recommended his removal, and President Jacob Zuma duly did so. Proposing that such a tarnished individual, whose reappointment to Cabinet should have been a no-no to begin with, should head the same institution from which he was dismissed makes a mockery of the country’s system of governance.

As a deputy minister Mr Cele has also not demonstrated the collegial attitude expected of Cabinet members since some elements started punting his move back to the police. His statements about crime and that he was ready to go back to his former job if asked, smack of an attempt to undermine the current police commissioner.

The calls also demonstrate how little understanding most of the public appears to have about violent crime in SA. Successive annual police statistics have shown that most victims know their attacker or were acquainted with them. In many instances the crime arose out of an argument in a social setting rather than a robbery.

Mr Cele’s bluster may give some a false sense of security but the reality is, and has always been, that modern policing is about analysis of trends, multidisciplinary approaches and appropriate deployment of resources. This includes the ability to manage fiscal resources allocated to the police within the rules prescribed in the law. Mr Cele could not do this and, given his insistence that his dismissal was irrational, does not appear to appreciate the gravity of his failure when in the job.


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