'He was an enemy of Bonteheuwel' – ire as Cele visits alleged gang leader’s family

2019-01-22 16:45
Minister Bheki Cele in Bonteheuwel (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Minister Bheki Cele in Bonteheuwel (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Police minister Bheki Cele faced the ire of Cape Flats community members who demanded to know why he visited and sympathised with the family of a suspected gang leader.

Ahead of a community meeting in Bonteheuwel on Tuesday, Cele drove through the gang-ridden neighbourhood, stopping in Taaibos Street where three people, who were killed in separate shootings on Sunday, lived.

A 54-year-old man had been gunned down at about 06:35 and was taken to hospital where he later died.

At the meeting, an irate Nadia Mayman of the Joint Peace Forum confronted Cele. She said it "grieves our community" that he sympathised with the man's family.

"You visited the family of the enemy of Bonteheuwel. He was one of the people who placed guns in our youth's hands and instructed them to go and shoot," Mayman said.

"But the minister saw it appropriate to go and give his condolences at his house, to his family. Why? They disrespect us time and time again."

READ: Three dead in separate 'gang-related' shootings in Cape Town

However, Cele countered that he was at the crime scene and it was "not to visit the alleged gangster".

"It doesn't matter who is killed, or how I or a community feels about the person. The police have the responsibility to arrest, no matter who [the victim is]."

Frustrated parents voiced concerns about the area not having its own police station and of having insufficient or incompetent police officers to tend to their complaints.

Henrietta Abrahams of Total Shutdown said locals were tired of feeding intelligence to the police and putting their lives on the line when they weren't seeing the results. Total Shutdown led an anti-crime protest in Bonteheuwel in September which led to the arrest of eight people for public violence following run-ins with police.

Last year, the group requested a "working class summit" to discuss the issues facing their neighbourhood at a formal workshop, and demanded an update to their appeal.

Cele, however, encouraged them to settle on a date and his office would take care of the details.

DA councillor in Bonteheuwel, Angus McKenzie, said Cele's visit was an exercise in "pouring honey on all our lips" and was akin to an "ANC rally" ahead of elections.

"There were no local government representatives present, or provincial government, let alone the councillor of the area.

"[This is] a serious indictment on how serious certain community members and the Minister of Police takes the crime situation in Bonteheuwel," he charged.

McKenzie called for the Bonteheuwel police station to be better resourced and for the Anti-Gang Unit to up its game in the embattled area.

Read more on:    bheki cele  |  cape town  |  crime
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