October 21, 2021

News24.com | Cele says crisis policing requires ‘shifting of goalposts between law enforcement and civil liberties’




Roger Sedres/Gallo Images via Getty Images

  • Crisis policing implies the “constant shifting of goalposts between law enforcement and respect for civil liberties”, Police Minister Bheki Cele said.
  • MPs called on IPID to investigate incidents of police brutality during the lockdown.
  • The DA blamed a police minister “behaving like he’s Rambo” for the incidents.

Hours after the police fired stun grenades and a water cannon at peaceful protesting hospitality service workers outside Parliament on Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said crisis policing “implies the constant shifting of goalposts between law enforcement and respect for civil liberties”.

Cele said this while presenting the police’s adjusted budget to a mini-plenary of the National Assembly in a virtual sitting.

“Honourable members, we find ourselves in a quagmire wherein ‘crisis policing’ against an invisible enemy implies the constant shifting of goalposts between law enforcement and respect for civil liberties.

“It is in this context that our policing discipline becomes more critical in ensuring that our fight against Covid-19 is both constitutionally compliant and consistent with the public good”.

READ | Farm safety a serious issue for police, says Cele

He added he concurred with the writer, Publilius Syrus, when he said: “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. 

“The seas these days are anything but calm – in some places the waters are downright angry – but those police leaders who hold the helm must keep the ship righted, its crew safe and well-cared for, and working together to move the vessel steadily on in the desired direction. The seas will calm once again, but for now, the sailing is going to be difficult”.

ANC MP and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police Tina Joemat-Pettersson referred specifically to the use of the water cannon earlier in the day and called on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate the incident.

IFP MP Zandile Majozi said police officers “who believe their uniforms allow them to break the law” would not be tolerated.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald saluted the good police officers who did their work.

“The bad apples are too many in the basket, and we must get rid of them,” he said.

As an example of “bad apples”, he mentioned a case in Stilfontein, where four police officers appeared in court for dealing in cigarettes.

ANC MP Jacqueline Mofokeng said IPID should “without fear or favour” investigate allegations of brutality and the police should act within the ambit of the law.

She praised the nomination of Jennifer Ntlatseng as the new executive head of IPID who will be the first female to hold that position.

Last week, when the committee resolved to support Ntlatseng’s nomination by Cele, the DA and FF Plus did not support it based on procedural grounds.

During Friday’s debate, Majozi said the IFP supported Ntlatseng’s nomination but had some concerns about the process that was followed.

Mofokeng said the ANC “appreciates” the process followed and Ntlatseng met all the criteria.

“IPID requires stability in its leadership and investigations”.

ALSO READ | Cele slams ANC’s anti-police brutality campaign, says alcohol ban shouldn’t have been lifted

Like Joemat-Pettersson, Mofokeng said the IPID legislation should be amended.

DA MP Okkie Terblanche said a guiding principle for most police services around the world was to “protect and serve” their respective communities.

“South Africans, however, are experiencing an unprecedented increase in violence by the security forces during their enforcement of Covid-19 quarantine regulations”.

Terblanche was referring to a recent presentation by IPID to the committee, which revealed an increase in complaints against the police during the lockdown.

He said this was tantamount to the police’s “waging of a war against citizens of this country”.

“Chairperson, I am not surprised at all, because this department is led by a minister behaving like Rambo. A man who told police officials to destroy stores selling liquor. A self-made general who promotes the enforcement of the law by brutal force instead of executing the law with empathy”.

Terblanche was a general in the police when Cele was still police commissioner.

He said would not respond to the “hogwash” spoken by Terblanche.

“He messed up in the police,” Cele said.

In his budget speech, he said the police’s management worked tirelessly to prioritise the morale and well-being of the members.

“Hence, a decision to elevate access to health and wellness of our members who are infected and affected together with their families. To this end, an estimated amount of R3.7 billion in addition to an amount of R1.1 billion reprioritised from the baseline has been allocated to respond to Covid-19 and related mandates”.

This post originally appeared on and written by:
Jan Gerber