Police Minister Bheki Cele has leapt to the defence of police officers who patrolled Nkandla over the weekend after scores of protesters lined up to defend Jacob Zuma at his sprawling homestead. The 79-year-old is facing a 15-month jail sentence, and could be forcibly arrested by Wednesday. However, SAPS stands accused of ‘being too lenient’.
Bheki Cele insists ‘arrests will be made’ amongst Zuma supporters
The mass gatherings, which have been ongoing since the first day of the month, are in direct disregard of the Level 4 lockdown restrictions. No crowds are allowed to congregate while the Delta variant surges through the country, and these particular events could soon be labelled as ‘super-spreaders’. But policing the demonstrators is no easy task.
Cele rallied behind the officers, and praised them for ‘avoiding another Marikana’ incident. He also insisted that justice will be delivered on those who broke the law, as SAPS are now studying TV footage and security cameras to identify the main culprits. Some protesters have scuffled with journalists, and others have discharged their firearms illegally.
‘Hundreds armed’ at Nkandla protests
Indeed, the issue with the guns seems to be the biggest bone of contention. Cele wasn’t best pleased to learn that more than 100 Zuma supporters at Nkandla were armed. Although they were outnumbered by firearm-equipped officers, the hatted minister believes that the cops did the right thing by ‘avoiding the outcome of chaos’.
“The job of the police is to enforce the law. But in the same sentence, it is to protect the inhabitants of the country. bullets have no eyes to say this is a child, this is a woman… over 100 people were armed. To say the police did nothing is wrong. We had a big contingent of officers around Nkandla, there were about 200 police, including special forces.”
“Special forces when they get there and somebody who is reckless, who has no responsibility whatsoever who wants to cause chaos… we are not going to be sucked in the chaos the people that, when lives are lost, they have no responsibility to explain. We have a reference point in SA. We have Marikana and we don’t want to go back there.”
"There were many women and children there and the police had to take a step back." Cele said.
— Advovolicious (@advovolicious) July 5, 2021