Bheki Cele

POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 29: Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bheki Cele speaks during the memorial service of Joy Matshoge on June 29, 2016 in Polokwane, South Africa.

Bheki Cele: Six important things to know about the Minister of Police

With the annual release of the crime stats coming out on Tuesday, here’s what you need to know about Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

Bheki Cele

POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 29: Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bheki Cele speaks during the memorial service of Joy Matshoge on June 29, 2016 in Polokwane, South Africa.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle has brought back some familiar faces back in February. Bheki Cele returned to a government role in policing, six years after Jacob Zuma fired him, and he delivers his first set of annual crime stats on Tuesday morning.

Cele came in to replace Fikile Mbalula, who served just 11 months in the position. Mbaks was known more for his antics on Twitter than his actual police work, and he even used the social media site to congratulate the man replacing him.

So what does South Africa need to know about its latest case of “in with the old, out with the new”? We’re looking at five of the essential facts we need to know about the Minister of Police:

Bheki Cele: Right man for the job?

He has previously been fired for corruption

Ah. Not the start we were looking for. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela uncovered his role in a legally-dubious leasing operation. Cele was heavily involved with building vendors Roux Shabungu, who were leasing property to the police at extortionate rates.

At the time, Madonsela labelled Cele’s conduct as “improper, unlawful and amounting to maladministration”. Is he capable of changing his spots?

Cele loathes the Guptas

Last year, Cele picked apart the nature of state capture and attacked the architects behind the corruption. It’s fair to say, he’ll be happy to see the back of the Guptas:

“Guptas are right, left and centre. Where do we govern if CVs were sent to the Guptas first? Guptas must leave us alone, they must leave the country. They must leave with their friends. We didn’t go to exile, jail for the Guptas.”

In fact, he’s not too keen on some fellow ANC members

Cele particularly found his voice in the run-up to the ANC’s 54th Elective Conference back in December 2017. He publicly denounced Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as a Gupta stooge and demanded Jacob Zuma faces accountability for his role in state corruption.

However, Cele’s clearest nemesis is Ace Magashule. He’s identified him as being “too close for comfort” with the Gupta family. The new Police Minister even used the ANC’s 106th birthday celebrations to deride Magashule. It’s well worth a watch.

He was once the subject of a R50 million lawsuit

Simon Wright, of the Daily Mirror, threatened Cele with legal action for allegedly defaming him after his arrest during the FIFA World Cup.

The journalist was arrested after being accused of helping to stage a security breach at Cape Town Stadium with Pavlos Joseph  – the British fan who was taken into custody for wandering into the English football team’s changing room.

Wright’s lawyer William Booth said he sent a letter of demand for R50 million to Cele

Stomach in, chest out

Bheki Cele is a huge believer in having a fighting-fit force at his disposal. So he lead the charge against pot-bellies in 2011 when he demanded that all police officers must have “enviable” bodies to do their job correctly.

He coined the term “stomach in, chest out” and it struck a chord with the South African public, even spawning a few techno-remixes along the way.

His assistant has to wear a hat smaller than his

The minister is very rarely seen without a hat, and he’s made it his trademark. It’s not clear why Bheki Cele wears his hat everywhere he goes, other than to complete the look of a cowboy on the hunt for outlaws.

Spare a thought for his assistant Lennit Max, however. He recently admitted that he’s also a man for the headgear, but to avoid any sort of power struggle, he has to ensure his hat is smaller:

“He wears a hat and I wear a hat as well. I just make sure my hat is smaller than his one.” – Lennit Max.