Bheki Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele / Image via GCIS

DA: ‘Stand in Solidarity with George Floyd and fire Bheki Cele’

As anger mounts over police brutality in South Africa and across the world, the DA believe that Bheki Cele should be removed.

Bheki Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele / Image via GCIS

The Democratic Alliance (DA) have called for South African Police Minister Bheki Cele to be removed as anger mounts around police brutality. 

Amidst a fundamental shift in the way in which human beings are going to have to behave for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is also engaging in a historical revolution surrounding the rights of minority groups who are constantly targeted by police brutality. 

The aforementioned movement began in the United States after the shocking video emerged of George Floyd being suffocated by a group of police officers and has raised the most prominent dialogue around the systemic issue in decades. The matter is by no means isolated to the US though, and the DA have called for South Africa’s own issues to be resolved by cutting of the head of the the snake, so to speak. 

‘Cele has encouraged police brutality’ 

The DA’s shadow minister for police, Andrew Whitfield, said that the campaign launched by Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the African National Congress (ANC) is welcome, but that in order to effect real change, Cele should be fired as they believe he is to blame for much of the brutality the is perpetuated in our society. 

“The DA launched its campaign against police brutality at the beginning of the lockdown and has been dealing with hundreds of complaints from across the country,” he said. 

“We welcome any campaign which acknowledges the senseless violence exerted on citizens by the police under the leadership of Minister Bheki Cele and the ANC government.”

“But if the ANC is truly serious about addressing the scourge of police brutality in our country, their first act must be to fire Police Minister Bheki Cele who has overseen the police’s increasing heavy-handedness and militarism, particularly over the past couple of months of the lockdown.”

Whitfield said that Cele has encouraged severe heavy-handedness during the lockdown and prior to it, with deaths at the hands of police at one point totalling more than deaths as a result of COVID-19.

“Despite repeated appeals by the President to not use excessive force when enforcing the lockdown, Minister Cele made statements that can only be seen as encouraging heavy-handed policing.”

“Cele suggested that SAPS ‘push’ people home and said that SAPS must deal with criminals ‘harshly’ even going so far as to instruct SAPS: ‘do not be nice to suspects’.”

“These utterances are not only deplorable, but they also incite the police to violate and brutalise our people.”

‘… the ANC was silent’ 

He said that firing Cele would be a bold step in the right direction if South Africa truly want to stand in solidarity with George Floyd and countless others who have lost their lives to biased policing around the world. 

He said that the party has prepared an ethics complaint against the minister. 

“The DA has already called upon the President to remove Minister Cele and we have prepared an ethics complaint against the Minister for his reckless comments throughout this lockdown.”

“While the world stands in solidarity against the senseless death of George Floyd and police brutality against vulnerable communities in the US, the reality is that the ANC and its alliance partners have ignored the Police Minister’s appalling comments as well as the police violence happening right here in their own backyards.”

He condemned the ANC’s silence regarding the deaths of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa, who was allegedly murdered by South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers in April. 

“Whilst South Africa stood in solidarity against the death of Collins Khosa, Petrus Miggels, Sibusiso Amos, and others killed by SAPS the ANC was silent.”

“When South Africans condemned the police humiliating and degrading South Africans during the lockdown, the ANC was silent.”

He said that hundreds of complaints had already filtered through police brutality hotlines, and hoped that the ANC was not merely “blowing hot air” as they embark on their own campaign against the scourge. 

“The DA has been at the forefront of fighting against police brutality. We have received more than 500 complaints and queries on our dedicated police brutality WhatsApp line and email address and have referred, advised and assisted on hundreds of complaints to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID); the Military Ombud; and complaints to other bodies or entities, such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).”

“The DA hopes that the ANC’s campaign will not just be their typical blowing of hot air but that they will truly stand with all South Africans who have been the victims of police brutality and put their money where their mouth is.”