Ronan Keating once sang ‘you say it best, when you say nothing at all’. Sadly for Bheki Cele, he needs to change the record: South Africa’s Police Minister tripped over a relatively straight-forward line of questioning on Thursday, during a live TV interview on Newzroom Afrika. The contentious politician, for once, was left lost for words.
Bheki Cele’s on-air mishap
Xoli Mngambi was conducting the discussion, and moved to ask Bheki Cele about the contentious Crime Intelligence boss Peter Jacobs. He was initially suspended and demoted at the start of the week, but confusion about the decision remains.
The host went in search of clarity. Instead, he only made an unwitting viral start out of Minister Cele. The top cop was unable to formulate an answer to the enquiry, leading to this incredible exchange…
Mngambi: The fate of the Crime Intelligence Head, Peter Jacobs: Is he still the Head right now?
Bheki Cele: I don’t know… [silence]
Mngambi: How can you not know, Minister?
Bheki Cele: You know what? I don’t know [Long pause]…
Mngambi: But that would be astounding. For a whole minister not to know who the Head of Crime Intelligence is…
Bheki Cele: I know the Acting Head. She has been brought up to act in place of Peter Jacobs…
Watch: Bheki Cele lost for words during TV interview
- You can see how that played out in the video below…
This country is running on autopilot pic.twitter.com/MwGXX9FhVs
— Langa (@_Langaman) March 11, 2021
- And you can see the full context behind this awkward moment here…
[WATCH] @XoliMngambi: Is Peter Jacobs still head of Crime Intelligence right now?
Bheki Cele: "I don't know"
Xoli: How can you not know Minister?
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) March 11, 2021
Police Minister addresses Wits protests
Bheki Cele did, eventually, regain his composure and spoke more about Jacobs’ interim replacement. However, this comical lapse took place at a time where the minister needed to show a strong, decisive front. A SAPS officer gunned down a bystander during the Wits protests on Wednesday – and Cele has vowed to take action against all rogue cops:
“Much more needs to be done to address the excessive use of force by police. We need to work towards that. There are many other [procedures] to be followed… We must work towards the elimination of this… It’s a sad situation. It is something you can’t live with.”