South Africa

SAPS says Bheki Cele did not use police chopper in his personal capacity at ANC event

Bheki Cele saps chopper

The SAPS says the Police Minister was doing his job.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has explained that Police Minister Bheki Cele’s use of its chopper at the African National Congress (ANC) election manifesto at the Moses Mabhida stadium on Saturday was not for his personal use.

A video circulating on social media shows the police minister arriving at the event in the chopper, sparking criticism from South Africans who accuse the minister of abusing state resources.

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for Cele to be billed in his personal capacity.

“Cele’s helicopter stunt was a gross abuse of state resources, and he should be made to pay for every flight minute that the helicopter was in the air,” said Andrew Whitfield, DA shadow minister of police.

The party has also called for a full SAPS internal investigation to review the process that authorised the use of the helicopter by Cele.

“All the SAPS officers across the chain of command who signed off on this irregular use of a police asset should be subjected to a disciplinary process.

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“State resources, including SAPS assets, should never be used for party political events. By commandeering a helicopter from the SAPS Air Wing Unit, Cele displayed an arrogant sense of entitlement that has become the hallmark of ANC politicians across the government system.

“He would rather divert SAPS’ crime-fighting resources for his personal use than protect South Africans who are being terrorized by a crime wave that has become a national crisis.”

However, according to Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, the SAPS chopper was deployed to the ANC manifesto launch to monitor the large crowds.

“The Natjoints as the operational arm of the JCPS cluster are responsible for the safety and security of all major events in the country according to the SASREA ACT,” explained Mathe.

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“At all major events, various law enforcement agencies led by the SAPS pull resources together to ensure all events are incident and crime-free.

“It is against this background that the co-chair of the Natjoints, who is also the Deputy National Commissioner responsible for visible policing and operations in the SAPS, will ensure adequate deployment of police resources to ensure heightened patrols in the form of foot, vehicle, and air support.”

During major events, the SAPS Air Wing and the overall operational commander provide air support for members on the ground to advise and guide ground operations.

“Such measures are put in place to avert stampedes and any other life-threatening incidents associated with major events,” said Mathe.

“Just like any other event, the Co-chair of the Natjoints will conduct and monitor operations with the use of all available resources. It is thus not true that an SAPS chopper was utilized for personal use for the Minister of Police.

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“The Minister of Police, who is responsible for the safety and security of all people living in SA, was at the time conducting his constitutional responsibility as a minister of police, where he also advised and guided operations. It is not an isolated incident in which the Minister guides and provides advice on measures that should be put in place to control large crowds during gatherings.”