Cele Facebook campaign a huge hit

2014-11-01 00:00

WHILE humbled by the vociferous calls to be reinstated as police commissioner, Bheki Cele says the calls should not overshadow the tragedy represented by the murder of soccer star Senzo Meyiwa.

Following the soccer star’s murder, social media have been awash with calls for Cele to once again take the helm of the police service, with the “Bring Back General Bheki Cele” Facebook group attracting nearly 8 000 “likes” in three days.

“This ringing endorsement by ordinary South Africans — as humbling and appreciated as it is — must not be allowed to distract us from the sad reality that yet another family has lost a father, a brother and a son; that an entire country has lost an icon and a custodian of the nation’s footballing dreams and aspirations; to the scourge of crime,” he said.

“As for the #BringBackBhekiCele movement itself, all I am going to say is, no amount of anti-Cele propaganda will ever cause people to forget their personal experiences and feelings from a mere five years ago. And, yes, the dream of a young woman being able to walk home alone from a nightclub at four in the morning without any fear that some brazen thug will attack her can still be realised,” Cele added.

Online media expert Arthur Goldstuck said the number of likes represented a significant gain for the page.

“That is a considerable number of likes for a non-commercial page. Generally speaking, you would expect those kinds of numbers for a commercial page which is actively spending money on prompting,” he said.

“It is pretty dramatic for an informal movement in South Africa to get that amount of likes in such a small amount of time,” Goldstuck added.

He said that social media “noise” should not be confused for a groundswell of public sentiment.

“The amount of likes is not a signifier of the view of the public, as on Facebook there are powerful niche interest groups and the noise they make outweighs the proportion of the population,” he said.

DA police spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said evidence should rule out Cele’s return as national commissioner.

“We need a career police officer who has risen through the ranks from constable, and who actually knows what they are doing,” she said.

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