Throughout this 10-month lockdown drama, perhaps no-one has filled the role of pantomime villain better than Bheki Cele. The Police Minister has come under scrutiny for failing to condemn police brutality, while gleefully enforcing bans on alcohol and cigarettes respectively. As for his 21:00 bed-time on New Year’s Eve? That was the icing on the cake.
Bheki Cele ‘unmoved’ by alleged death threats
Minister Cele certainly isn’t in this job to make friends – but concerns have been raised about his self-declared enemies. On the same day Jackson Mthembu passed away last week, the top cop soon trended on Twitter – as hundreds of grief-stricken users cruelly suggested ‘it should have been Bheki’.
Such utterances would be enough to upset anyone, and rightly so. But does Bheki Cele care? Does he hell. When you have the hat collection this guy does, you’re long past letting public opinion dictate your feelings. The minister, who appeared on Power 98.7’s PowerZone on Sunday night, shared a message to defuse his fiercest critics:
“I have already laughed off people on Twitter wishing and threatening me with death after the passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu. [I have grown] a thick skin over the years – and such jabs come with the job.”
Bheki Cele praises cops, slams Mpumalanga Minister
Meanwhile, Cele also launched into a defence of the police response to lockdown so far. He praised the vast majority of officers for ‘acting professionally’, and once again banged the drum for the ongoing alcohol ban in South Africa:
“SAPS have conducted themselves professionally during the lockdown. Of the 185 000 officers in SA, only a handful are working outside the law and bringing the organisation into disrepute. South Africans are excessive when it comes to consuming liquor, this is why SAPS have their hands full when enforcing the alcohol ban.”
Mpumalanga Premier faces wrath of SAPS
The late-night radio appearance came just hours after Bheki Cele declared SAPS would investigate Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane- who appeared at Jackson Mthembu’s funeral without a mask.
“There is definitely a case. SAPS must find out if police at the funeral verbally warned the Premier as per regulations. The action taken against the Premier should be based on the outcome of the probe – and must show that no one is above the law. The investigation into the matter must reveal why no action was taken when [The Premier] failed to wear a mask.”
Cele tells @RamsByTheHorns there was definitely a case for @SAPoliceService to act on when the Premier of Mpumalanga failed to #WearAMask at the funeral service of late Min Jackson Mthembu. Cele says the investigation into the matter must reveal why no action was taken.
— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) January 24, 2021