Anger over Cele’s Jesus comment
Johannesburg - Christians must take a stand against blasphemy after national police commissioner General Bheki Cele reportedly likened the SA Police Service to Jesus Christ and the 12 apostles, the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) said on Monday.
"It is only as churches hammer home the message that their members should not encourage the ANC by voting for them that this blasphemy will cease," CDP leader Theunis Botha said in a statement.
Beeld reported on Saturday that Cele said that if even Jesus and God had criminals in their midst, it was to be expected that there would be criminals in the 193 000-strong police force.
Botha said it was clear that President Jacob Zuma and his cronies were not getting the message that Christians took offence to comments using the Christian faith in statements about the ANC and government institutions.
"The latest remarks from General Bheki Cele comparing the [SA Police Service] with Jesus and His disciples sends out the message of someone who is set on offending Christians," he said.
‘A criminal among the apostles’
Cele was quoted in Beeld as saying: "Jesus Christ had an organisation of 12 people... among those 12 there was a criminal who sat with Jesus every day."
He was speaking at a ceremony for the handing over of police cars in Pretoria on Friday.
"Even when Jesus berated him [Judas], he denied that it was him who was a criminal.
"In the Garden of Eden, there were two people. God Himself did an inspection every morning. One day, He could not find them. They were hiding, because they had committed a crime," he said.
"If you will find criminals amongst two people, then you will find criminals in an organisation with 193 000 members," Cele said.
Cele's spokesperson Nonkululeko Mbatha could not immediately be reached for comment.
Beeld reported that in the past seven months, 254 police in Gauteng have been arrested for alleged involvement in robberies and corruption.
Previous blasphemous complaints
Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and some of his colleagues were arrested last week for their alleged involvement in a murder committed in the late 1990s.
Cele's biblical comparison is not the first to be used in South African politics.
President Jacob Zuma was criticised before the last election in 2009 for saying that the ANC would rule until Jesus comes.
In 2008, a provincial ANC leader likened Zuma's suffering in the then corruption case against him to what Jesus had gone through.
Earlier this year, Zuma said a vote for the ANC was to choose heaven, while a vote for the opposition amounted to choosing hell.
This drew rebukes from opposition parties, church groups and other bodies. Some described the remarks as blasphemous.
The ANC at the time dismissed the criticism as childish.