- Police Minister Bheki Cele claims he did not have any information ahead of the unrest that swept across Gauteng and KZN in July
- The minister was addressing the SAHRC's investigative hearing into the unrest that claimed more than 340 lives across the two provinces
- South Africans were surprised by Cele's claims on social media, berating his department and citing a lack of accountability
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UMHLANGA - Minister of Police Bheki Cele has told the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hearings into the July unrest that he was kept out of intelligence briefings ahead of last year's chaotic scenes.
Briefly News previously reported that more than 300 people were killed after violent scenes erupted in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal amid widespread looting and destruction of property.
Cele resumed his testimony at the commission on Monday, having first given testimony in December. According to News24, Cele claimed he last received briefings before Crime Intelligence head Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs was served with a suspension notice in November 2020.
Jacobs was among six senior officials suspended after an initial report into alleged personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement showed glaring irregularities in the use of the Secret Service Agency (SSA) account.
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Ploy to inflict irreparable damage
According to Cele, it was Peters' removal that led to him "deliberately" not being kept in the loop around developments ahead of the unrest. Cele said the information he received came from other sources, which he attempted to follow up with police management.
"I didn't receive any intelligence. Despite this, I heard murmurs of what could have been intelligence info. Unsure if what I was hearing was true, I tried to get information from within the intelligence structures," Cele said.
Among the bites of information, Cele claims he attempted to verify alleged threats made by faceless instigators against government officials and their families, whom he would not name, that cropped up on social media.
"At one time, there was someone calling [out] the names of the ministers, saying that if they failed to find them, they would know where to find their loved ones. This made me worried. However, I was informed we weren't equipped enough to trace the culptits," he said.
Cele also noted also calls at the time for the reservoirs to be destroyed, the contamination of the water supply line and for an oil pipeline from KZN to Gauteng to be destroyed. TimesLIVE reported that there were even suggestions that a hospital holding patients in Pietermaritzburg to be set alight.
"They wanted to inflict the maximum damage possible on the government," added Cele, saying that South Africans would have turned against the state had any of the intended threats come to pass.
Mzansi slam intelligence claims
South Africans mercilessly berated Cele's assertions on social media, citing that his priorities were misguided. Briefly News takes a look at some of the loudest reactions to the minister's testimony below.
@Makgola Lehong wrote:
"He wasn't shut out he wasn't attending to be spiteful and running around like a police spokesperson."
@Denesh Ramdat Govender said:
"Stop lying to the people of this country, you were too busy cleaning your big hats....but can you and your commissioner have a discussion and stick to one lie, please."
@Sandile Mngomezulu added:
"He was at the beach catching surfers and searching for alcohol. Who shut him from the briefing as a minister, a political head of SAPS? He could have contacted all stakeholders, the looting continued. No accountability at all."
Cele insists Malema, Khehla Sitole wanted him axed
Elsewhere, Briefly News previously reported that Cele spoke out against an alleged plan to have him removed from his position. He made the revelations during the first leg of the 2022 State of the Nation (SONA) debate at the Cape Town City Hall on Monday last week.
Taking to the podium, Cele, who has been under the pump from ordinary citizens for some time, pointed an accusing finger at Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and national police commissioner Khehla Sitole for attempting to hatch a plot to see him vacate from his role.
Several opposition speakers, including Malema, found it glaring that Cele was still the Police Minister following the conclusions of the report into the July unrest and the picture it paints against him.
Source: Briefly News