Bheki Cele was recently appointed Police Minister, to succeed Fikile Mbalula.

If you think Mbalula is a man of action, watch Cele!  He is no newcomer to the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) and to politics.

Cele served as National Police Commissioner and during his term as top cop, we saw tough talk and lots of action. Crime levels started coming down slowly.  

Cele takes no nonsense. He has always been passionate about creating a safer South Africa and even when he served as an MEC in KZN, he made his mark. He was often labelled a “cowboy.”

Some are suggesting that Cele has tempered down over the years. His controversial “shoot to kill” comments appear to still be haunting him although at the time he did clarify them and placed it into context.

In my previous capacities, I worked closely with Cele. He has always been accessible and approachable and I’m sure he is going to keep this going strong. 

Visible policing is important and Cele knows that. 

“We will walk the streets of the so called no go areas, we will clean  the streets and we will continue to do this until the people of South Africa say we are safe and that they feel safe" Cele said recently. 

Cele needs to put a strong team behind him at the Police Ministry. The Police’s Civil Secretariat is key to delivery and Mbalula is on record as saying he does not know what many of the staffers do. There needs to be  a clean-up. 

IPID also needs to be given the resources to carry out its mandate. We need stable leadership and they must ensure they continue to be an effective watchdog.

Cele is going to have his hands full but I’m sure he is going to do what it takes to make SA safe. 

Crime levels are worryingly high. Murder, rape, house invasions, armed robberies, cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies, kidnappings and other violent crimes are the order of the day.

We are living in fear and criminals continue to run amok. Enough is enough. We need to reclaim our streets once and for all. 

There is no quick fix solution. While we point fingers at government and the SAPS, we have to all play our part. We hand to hold hands. We must become active citizens. 

Community policing is critical and it’s good to see the new Police Minister and the SAPS leadership have committed themselves to this. 

However, we don’t need talk, we need action. We need the police to implement practical measures and to engage and involve communities at every level. Partnerships are necessary.

We need stability in the SAPS. National Commissioner after National
Commissioner over recent years has  been implicated in wrongdoing. 

Cele urged new Public Order Policing (POP) Reserve Unit members last week to draw the line between policing and politics.

He said the members had to distance themselves from politics when responding to community protests and keep to their core business of policing. "Don’t ask for political affiliations when you are deployed to communities, just perform your duties to the best of your abilities. Leave politics to politicians,”
Cele said. 

He is 100 percent correct. Politics must be kept away from the SAPS. 

At same event,  Cele said: “I am not calling for police to be trigger happy, however,  they will not die in the course of duty, theirs is to defend themselves and defend the defenseless communities…”

Police must act within the framework of the law. 

Cele needs to prioritize key issues:

*The police need to be adequately resourced. We need more cops on the beat and officers, especially the lower ranks,  need to be better remunerated.  

*Corruption and criminality is rife within the SAPS. We need a clean-up and we need the dedicated Anti-Corruption Unit to return. 

There needs to be also regular lifestyle audits on especially all senior officers. 

When reports emerge saying thousands of Crime Intellegence officers do not have security clearances, we have a serious problem. 

*Crime statistics must be released each month to allow communities to respond appropriately. The delay in making these figures available must end.

*The police need an effective strategy to fight serious and violent crime. Organized crime is rife and gangs are continuing with their reign of terror. CIT robberies are now happening almost every day and urgent interventions are required by all stakeholders including the security industry themselves.

Kidnappings of especially businessmen are on the increase. Syndicates with international links are involved. The gangs are cashing in tens of millions of rands in ransom. We need special units to deal with this and bring the criminals to book. 

*Technology needs to be embraced as a matter of priority. If not, we are going to be left behind. The Namola Safety App is fast reaching the 150 000 download mark. Hundreds of people are getting help fast each week. And thanks to the SAPS, Metro Police and Community Safety Departments for acting. Namola is supported by DialDirect and it was also endorsed by former Minister Mbalula. 

*Effective communication is needed at all levels in the police. 

*The National Development Plan (NDP) must be implemented and all its recommendations must now come to life. This includes the establishment of a police board, the demilitarization of the SAPS and the guidelines to appoint a National Commissioner.

*Special units such as Narcotics must be returned. There has been talk of this for years and very little has happened. Drugs are killing our people.

*Abuse against women and children remains a major headache. Special programmes and measures must be introduced immediately. 

Let’s give Minister Cele the support he needs to take the fight against crime to a new level. Now is the time!

The famous Hugh Masekela “Thuma Mina – Send Me”,  Call to Action, must resonate with all of us. President Cyril Ramaphosa appropriately repeated the need for active citizenry.

“I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around

When they triumph over poverty
I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS
I wanna lend a hand
I wanna be there for the alcoholic
I wanna be there for the drug addict
I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse
I wanna lend a hand
Send me…” 

These words of Masekela must become a way of life for all of us. The late Bra Hugh was involved in SHOUT, a movement of musicians who committed to creating a safer South Africa. Let’s keep his legacy alive. Let’s Make SA Safe!

*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activists and Namola’s Chief Ambassador. He also heads-up #MakeSASafe 

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