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Bheki Cele / Photo by Luke Daniel, TheSouthAfrican.com

‘Rape apologist’ Bheki Cele should be removed as police minister – DA

The police minister’s latest appraisal of a heinous rape committed by a police officer have angered the DA and millions of South Africans.

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Bheki Cele / Photo by Luke Daniel, TheSouthAfrican.com

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the head of Police Minister Bheki Cele after his comments referring to a police officer who is accused of raping his wife. 

Cele’s “insensitive” comments have severely raised the ire of the party’s Shadow Minister for Police, Andrew Whitfield, who said that Cele was simply not fit for his crucial role. 

The “Man in the Hat” has been the centre of much attention during the nationwide lockdown period, having made controversial orders regarding the banning of alcohol, cigarettes, jogging and dog walking — and even the act of kissing

He also suggested that the prohibition of alcohol sales should continue past the lockdown schedule, and applauded the drop in reported rape incidents since the lockdown began.

His no-nonsense approach to the unprecedented circumstances has divided opinions, but it would appear that now the public are leaning away from his “draconian” mantra. 

Cele dismisses ‘inaccurate’ reporting

Cele lectured journalists at a media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday 7 April about reporting police affairs properly, charging that the media are pooling police as a collective when individual officers commit crimes. Frankly, his justification contained one of the most unsavoury comments he could have made.

“When you report, help us to report things accurately. Police are monitored by metro and the Ombudsman. When something happens and it is not correct, come and say so.

“A story came out about a policeman who raped a lady,” he said, referring to a matter in which a SAPS officer was arrested on 3 April. “We discovered that he is policeman, but he is the husband of the lady — it is not the police!

“We arrest rapists every day who happen to be boyfriends and husbands, but we don’t say that we have arrested a pilot, or a taxi driver.

“He was not in uniform, it was not at the police station. It was in the middle of the night. Say: ‘The husband raped his wife’ — not the police!” 

‘The minister is a rape apologist’ 

Whitfield condemned the comments in the strongest terms, saying that with South Africa’s gender-based violence (GBV) statistics among the highest in the world, Cele’s response to the scourge is unconscionable.

“The minister is a rape apologist, and he must be held accountable for his careless and insensitive justifications for rape,” he said. 

“The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove Bheki Cele as minister of police following his outrageous, and cavalier remarks about a police officer who allegedly raped his wife. In addition to this, we call on the minister to publicly apologise to the nation.”

“As of 2 April 2020, South Africa had an estimated 87 000 cases of gender-based violence reported during the lockdown. The scourge of GBV is real, and it is irresponsible that the minister would expect the media to censor themselves by not reporting on cases where those who are responsible for protecting us, are in fact doing us harm.”

‘Unfit for office’

Whitfield called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove him from office, and install someone fit for the job at hand. 

“The DA calls on President Ramaphosa to remove Bheki Cele from his position, as he has proven, especially during this lockdown period that he is not fit for office.”

“The President cannot, in good conscious allow a person who is a rape apologist to continue serving as a Minister of Police.”