The Moerane Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating political killings in KwaZulu-Natal, is nothing more than a storytelling exercise, former police commissioner Bheki Cele says.
“I don’t know why the commission was established. So Cele shot his sister and now what? You tell the story and then what? I don’t know what the aim and the contribution of the commission is, except to tell us a story,” he said.
Most of the “stories” the commission would hear had already been in the public domain for years, he told City Press. Cele is former eThekwini ANC chairperson, is an ANC national executive committee member and is deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
He said Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s attempt to bring various branches of the police to bear on the problem of political killings was more valuable than the commission. “There is one thing that stops people from committing crimes, and that is finding the people who are committing the crimes. Once people see arrests, they will lose their appetite to commit those crimes because there are consequences,” he said.
Cele attributed the killings to a toxic political environment and to inadequate policing efforts. “Toxic because we have learnt to hold on to power at all costs, including [by] killing [people].” The province has become a battleground in the run-up to the ANC’s December elective conference.
Cele has aligned himself with presidential hopeful Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to replace President Jacob Zuma. “There is an exhausted democracy in the ANC when you begin to say that tradition can go out the window. You choose so-and-so and come with the foreign tendency of having kings and queens who take over. Allow the ANC people to choose,” he said, in a veiled reference to the ANC’s succession race. Cele said remnants of the apartheid police force remained in the police, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.
Their aim was to destabilise the ANC and the government. These elements had not been confronted and continued to cause instability. He blamed the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) for the long-standing culture of political killings. The IFP controlled the province until the 2004 elections, when the ANC won the majority. The IFP, however, retained the northern parts. In the 2009 general elections, the ANC resoundingly beat the IFP.
Thousands of people were killed in a low-intensity war between the ANC and IFP in the province in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “ANC people were not counselled to say violence belonged to that era, and that time has gone. Most people who joined the ANC came from Inkatha. There was no orientation or counselling that said ‘when you come here, the project now is peace’. People came with their ideas and ideology, and, sometimes, with their equipment – ready to use it,” Cele said.
There have been calls, including from IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, for ANC and IFP members to reveal the locations of arms caches. Cele said it was primarily the duty of law enforcement to find these weapons. State Security Minister David Mahlobo and police crime intelligence had to do their jobs, he said.
“Mahlobo needs to stop being Beyoncé, appearing there on TV,” he said. “Crime intelligence must tell us where these guns are. Political parties can urge people to help, but police have the capacity, the equipment, personnel and training to find those guns.
“If you are busy preoccupying yourselves with commissions, you won’t get to that,” he said.