Bheki Cele: 'We can't continue to bury police officers'

2018-02-27 19:03
Bheki Cele. (File, Netwerk24)

Bheki Cele. (File, Netwerk24)

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Ngcobo - "We cannot continue to bury police officers. What about their children?"

These were the words of newly-appointed Minister of Police Bheki Cele on Tuesday when he spoke at a memorial held for five police officers and a soldier, who were gunned down in Ngcobo.

It was a highly emotive service at the local Methodist church, which thousands of community members, family, friends and police officers attended.

READ: New Police Minister Cele rushes to Ngcobo to 'join the force'

Family members of the slain officers gathered in the centre of a stage and each of them lit a candle as they paid tribute to their loved ones.

Several women, unable to contain their grief, broke down in the packed church as the proceedings continued. The police band were also there to pay their respects to their colleagues through their music.

Then Cele spoke: “The Bible says a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye. Police must be like that, but within the law."

A concerted effort to tackle crime

Cele warned sternly that police would "double” their efforts in fighting crime and added that no criminal should be feared by the community.

The law allows the police to use every force available to them – even deadly force – when protecting themselves, he pointed out.

“I'm not saying they must shoot people, but do what the law says. As policemen and women, we have to apply the law within the Constitution.”

Cele also took a moment to thank his predecessor Fikile Mbalula as well as the officer who responded to the scene in Ngcobo.

Referring to the collapse of the Seven Angels Ministry – which was linked to the murders - Cele said it was not a church, but a crime scene.

The church was in the spotlight at the weekend after seven people suspected to be involved in the murders were shot dead.

Three Mancoba brothers, who were church leaders, were among those killed.

Several young girls and women were rescued from the church, which locals described as a "cult".

"I am worried about these churches. We will still be there for a very long time because there is no church there but a crime scene," he said.

'Hold on, just hold on'

Chief Chaplin of Eastern Cape police, Allen Nyoni delivered an encouraging message to the bereaved family. "Even when you are broken and feel that you can't anymore, hold on, just hold on."

He told them that, after depression, acceptance will come.

"You tell yourself, let me deal with it. We feel broken, because our beloved have not been killed, they have been murdered."

Nyoni added that God would use their brokenness and mend it.

Read more on:    saps  |  bheki cele  |  crime  |  ngcobo massacre

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