Cele down but not out

2012-02-28 00:00

SUSPENDED police chief General Bheki Cele may be down, but he is not out.

With the inquiry into his fitness to hold office to start next Monday, Cele raised his head above the parapet on Sunday when he attended the unveiling of a peace monument outside Margate.

Although he was not in police uniform, it did not stop Cele from his trademark tough talk.

Cele has been suspended since October on full pay and has largely kept a low profile while awaiting his fate.

It is understood that Cele, who grew up on the South Coast, was invited as a “son of the area” to speak on his political involvement and growth.

But he did not limit his speech to the political history of the area.

Instead, he focused on issues close to his job as police commissioner.

Among those present at the unveiling were KwaZulu-Natal Legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni and Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay.

Cele confirmed to The Witness last night that he had been invited in his private capacity.

“How do you think I got to know about the event? I was not there in any capacity. I was simply invited and I attended.”

On what he had been doing with his free time, he said he spent most of it “on personal growth and enjoying life”.

“I spend my time going to gym, reading and doing many things that I was not able to do when I was busy.

“Right this moment I am sitting in my house enjoying dinner with my wife.”

Ironically, Cele’s speech at the South Coast ceremony came on the same day that Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard released her party’s submission to the board of inquiry, in which she claimed, among other things, that some of his utterances in the past had inspired violent behaviour by police.

In his speech Cele urged police to arrest men who raped and abused women and children rather than counsel them.

“I plead with you. Please arrest men who rape their children and abuse women. Don’t advise them to talk about those things as though they are family matters.”

He also urged women not to drop cases, but to report any abuse they encountered.

Cele called on police to ensure that police stations became “homes of service” that were welcoming to women who wished to report rape and abuse.

“Women have a right to wear what they want.

“Arrest those who abuse them for what they wear. It’s not the business of a police officer to ask the girls whether they wore short skirts or not at the time of their rape and abuse.

“Police are not fashion advisers. You don’t have to ask women whether they wore short skirts like that when they come to report rape cases. The police’s job is to arrest criminals and crime must be reported.”

Cele said there was a high incidence of crimes against children and women. He urged elderly people to respect children and their rights.

“Parents need to protect children and we can’t have parents using children as sex workers as young as 12 years old. It is reported that the children are having sex 30 times a day.”

He said there was a need to fight sex slavery. “We can’t liberate the county for criminals. There is a new war, a war against rape and child abuse.”

Cele urged families to report criminals among them and not to protect or help pay their bail.

“While there is no money to pay for children to school, parents borrow money to pay bail for criminals.”

He also had words of advice for young women.

“Girls, don’t fall in love with criminals or get involved in crime because you will die in it,” he warned.

The inquiry, which starts on March 5, will be chaired by Judge Jake Moloi. It will be open to the public and will take place in the City of Tshwane’s municipal offices, Munitoria.

He also declined to comment on the latest developments relating to the Cato Manor organised crime unit, which was disbanded recently, and whose members face suspension.

• news1@feveronline.co.za

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