The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be referring Police Minister Bheki Cele to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests to investigate his conduct during the national lockdown.
The Minister has made a number of reckless comments in the past 21 days which have shocked the nation and created an environment in which SAPS may have felt emboldened to act outside of the law. These include:
- Cele suggested that SAPS “push” people home and said that SAPS must deal with criminals “harshly” even going so far as to instruct SAPS: “do not be nice to suspects”.
- The DA has already called for the President to remove the Minister for his comments about the rape of a woman at the hands of a police officer. Cele said, “There is a report that a member of the police raped a woman during the lockdown. This is untrue. It was the woman’s husband, who happens to be a police officer, who raped her. We don’t go out and report that a pilot raped someone, or a taxi driver raped someone, why should it be any different now?”
- On Sunday the 12th of April Cele said: “…law enforcement will come down harder on shebeens that continue to supply alcohol during the lockdown.” He says not only will liquor be confiscated and people arrested, but officers will also destroy the infrastructure.
These disgraceful comments are unbecoming of a member of Parliament and a member of the Executive. Section 2.4.6 of Parliament’s Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests clearly stipulates that all members should “promote and support ethical conduct by leadership and example”. We believe Cele has not shown ethical leadership by encouraging SAPS to act outside the law. Section 4.1.1 states Members must abide by this principle.
Cele’s remarks are also in contradiction of section 4.1.3 which requires all members to “act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them”. By encouraging law enforcement officers to break the law by destroying infrastructure the Minister has crossed a line and Parliament must urgently investigate whether this is conduct befits that of a member of parliament and the executive.
In a report released by IPID in the first week of the lockdown it was revealed that 8 people had died at the hands of the police with 30 other offences including assault being reported in the first week.
The DA launched an email and WhatsApp line to report police abuse and have received nearly 200 complaints relating to police abuse and misconduct.
During this unprecedented period in our democracy Parliament’s responsibility to hold the executive to account is more important than ever before.