CAPE TOWN. – A community policing engagement in Gugulethu descended into a shouting match, when an angry Police Minister Bheki Cele ripped into a civil rights lobby group leader who claimed he was failing in his ministerial duties to protect local residents from serious crimes.
Cele was attending a consultative meeting between police, community organisations and residents of Nyanga and Gugulethu in Cape Town, when Action Society director Ian Cameron interrupted, highlighting that the minister had utterly failed in protecting citizens or adequately deploying police to crime hotspots.
More than 30 identified community organisations – including community policing forums from Nyanga and Gugulethu – were in attendance to discuss critical issues of crime, policing concerns, and challenges faced by police.
Cele was responding to concerns raised at the stakeholder and Cameron in particular, when the outburst occurred.
Cameron blamed police for not deploying enough resources to the area to fight crime.
He said: “You are failing your own Constitution, and not fulfilling your mandate, from not protecting this community. I don’t see you patrolling the area at night with the people here.
“None of these ladies here have bodyguards to walk home with them at night; they have to do it on their own because they are brave. It’s unacceptable, sir. You talk down to the neighbourhood watches and don’t understand the policy framework. You are failing in your duties.”
Things became heated when Cele told Cameron to “shut up”.
“I am a son of the soil. I chose to not speak about politics today. Whatever happens to me, I will be buried in this country,” Cele said.
“I did not join human rights battles yesterday. I will not be called a garden boy. Don’t provoke me. I’ve lived this life. Shut up!”
Police officers then quickly moved in to forcibly removed Cameron from the venue.
Speaking to reporters outside, Cameron blamed Cele for turning the engagement into a political issue.
“We are an organisation representing many gender-based violence victims in this area. He spoke about political issues, while 150 women will be raped in South Africa.”
“He told me to shut up because I told him not to speak down to me.”
In a statement released, Cameron said they would not “sit down and shut up” while crime spiralled out of control in the country.
“Cele is once again abusing the police force for political gain and holding authority over ordinary citizens.
“The SAPS will never succeed in fighting crime if Cele stays in his position. Action Society will, however, continue to be a voice for the voiceless where the police neglect their duty,” he said. – News24.com