DOCUMENTS

Bheki Cele playing cops and surfers on the beach - Andrew Whitfield

DA MP condemns use of SANDF to patrol beaches on the Garden Route

Cele playing cops and surfers on the beach while South Africans live in fear of real criminals

06 January 2021

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns in the strongest terms the announcement made by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, that members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will today be roped in to assist the South African Police Service (SAPS) with patrolling beaches in the Garden Route.

It is well known that South Africa suffers from an extremely high crime rate. Rape, gender-based violence, murder, farm attacks and gang warfare are all but out of control. Just yesterday, a vigilante mob attacked and beheaded two suspected gang members in Durban, while last Tuesday 11-year-old Kgothatso Tshabalala was stabbed to death in Mamelodi, allegedly by a man angry at her mother. Every day, community papers on the Cape Flats carry more stories of innocent men, women and children caught in gang crossfire while going about their everyday lives.

It is under circumstances such as this that Minister Cele chooses to prioritise the chasing down of surfers on the beach and the confrontation of sunbathers and joggers on promenades. The DA has for years requested the deployment of the SANDF in gang-ridden areas of the Cape Flats, but these requests have always fallen on deaf ears. This is indicative of Minister Cele’s skewed priorities.

Questions also need to be asked about the seeming lack of agency on the part of National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole – the SAPS are accountable to the Minister but not under his command, and it is worrying that the Commissioner seems to have handed Minister Cele the reins without so much as a push-back about the way his men and women in blue are being deployed to police petty crimes while neglecting priority areas such as gang warfare, farm attacks and gender-based violence.

Lastly, given that SAPS has a budget close on double that of the SANDF and its personnel numbers exceed the 187 000 mark as opposed to the SANDF with around 75 000 soldiers, surely police have the resources to handle a few surfers on their own? Calling in the SANDF for this purpose is an admission of failure on the Minister’s part.

It is becoming increasing clear that our national security personnel are being misused in order to serve the authoritarian agendas of ANC Ministers hell-bent on controlling rather than governing.

The DA will continue to fight for an honest and professional police service committed to keeping our communities safe and criminal free.

Statement issued by Andrew Whitfield MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police, 6 January 2021