Cele retracts Dewani ‘monkey’ statement

2011-04-18 14:24

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele has retracted his reference to British murder suspect Shrien Dewani as “a monkey”, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said today.

In December, director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, Paul Hoffmann, lodged a complaint with Madonsela in connection with the public statement made by Cele.

The statement was widely perceived as having referred to Dewani as “a monkey”, she said.

Hoffman held the view that the statement was improper, unlawful and could have a negative effect on the extradition proceedings in respect of Dewani currently in process in the United Kingdom.

Madonsela raised the matter with Cele and discussed her views on and his response to the complaint with him.

The matter was resolved when Cele provided her with a statement, signed on April 5.

The statement read: “I refer to a fairly recent comment attributed to myself in the course of a media enquiry relating to a British murder suspect, one Mr Shrien Dewani.

“A statement by myself contained a reference to the word ‘monkey’. The comment attracted media attention and debate about, for instance, its derogatory nature and possible impact on a pending trial. It was not my wish to generate or even participate in any such debate.

“I have taken note of some of the reactions. The comment was however made with no intent to harm or offend anyone. In this regard, it is my wish to reiterate my respect for the Constitution and all the rights it enshrines.

“I believe the South African Police Service has to move on and focus on carrying out its commitment to ensuring that everyone in this country is safe, and does feel safe. I therefore wish to retract the use of the word,” Cele wrote.

Madensela said she had accepted Cele’s statement of retraction and Hoffman was informed accordingly. The matter was therefore regarded as closed.

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