JP Smith slams Bheki Cele for 'moral cowardice' at Total Shutdown meeting

2018-09-27 17:02
JP Smith. (Peter Abrahams, Netwerk24)

JP Smith. (Peter Abrahams, Netwerk24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith says the manner in which he and Cape Town councillor Angus McKenzie were silenced at a meeting in Bonteheuwel was undemocratic.

On Wednesday, Smith and McKenzie were asked by Police Minister Bheki Cele to exit the meeting when Total Shutdown protesters demanded that they leave.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Tuesday's protests around Cape Town against poverty and gangsterism within certain Western Cape communities.

"This is not apartheid anymore. You don’t get to silence your opponents by chasing them away and preventing their voices from being heard," Smith said at press conference on Thursday.

"I’m doing this presser precisely so that my voice can be heard, so that we can say the things that we were denied through the censorship of the minister’s intervention yesterday."

WATCH: Total Shutdown protesters cheer as JP Smith, councillor kicked out of Cele meeting

During the meeting, Cele said that he had not been aware that provincial government officials had been invited to the meeting.

He said that he could not allow the meeting to collapse because of their presence, and requested them to leave.

Smith rejected Cele's claim.

"This is the email that I got from SAPS requesting me to attend the meeting. It was unreasonably short notice, it arrived at 17:46. I had to cancel two meetings to be there," Smith said.

He said that he felt slightly embarrassed for cancelling his other meetings in Salt River.

"To have wasted my time going to a meeting where I was, through a little bit of stage craft and showmanship, directed to the door is really wasteful. I’m afraid I must condemn this moral cowardice by the minister."

'False narrative' around City's interventions

Smith said that the meeting created a false narrative surrounding the City’s numerous gangsterism interventions.

Total Shutdown leaders alleged that Smith had been against the movement and complained that the police response to the protests was unreasonable.

The protests took place in various communities throughout the province, which resulted in traffic disruptions and 13 arrests.

"There is an unfair assignment of blame placed on the City around the policing function. This is a purposeful narrative – all the political parties' polling is showing crime is a major issue," he claimed.

"The ANC is seeing that it will impact on their electoral outcomes and for them it is critical at this stage to shift blame for what is policing failure in the hands of national government, to other spheres of government."

He then criticised the minister’s announcement of the possible reinstatement of a specialised gang unit in the Western Cape.

'Blood not on his hands?"

In 2003, the Western Cape police's specialised gang unit was disbanded by then police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Operation Combat was created in 2010 and focused on taking down high-ranking gangsters in the province and prosecuting them under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

ALSO READ: Bheki Cele hints at re-establishment of a specialised gang unit in the Cape

It was then communicated that Operation Combat had been disbanded in 2016.

"For at least the last decade, we have been consistently calling for these specialised units," Smith said.

"Ops Combat was returned and also disbanded. I must ask by who? Who disbanded Ops Combat? Ask SAPS why the gang unit was briefly returned and then disbanded.

"If the minister is saying that they should again come back, then there is the blood of the 850 gang deaths that could have been reduced if the gang unit was functioning. Is that blood not on his hands?"

Read more on:    jp smith  |  bheki cele  |  cape town

Inside News24


Matric Results are coming soon!

Notify me when results become available

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.