South Africa-Police-Minister

Ramaphosa resists calls to fire S/Africa’s police minister

APA-Pretoria (South Africa)

South Africa’s Police Minister Police Minister Bheki Cele will stay put despite opposition calls for his removal over a R2 billion (about US$113 million) expenditure on VIP protection, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

Ramaphosa defended Cele after opposition Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen called for his axing from cabinet for allegedly failing to provide the leadership needed to steer the South African Police Service (SAPS). 

The opposition leader accused Cele of abusing scarce public resources instead of fighting crime, noting that SAPS has spent an average of R600 million a year on catering and accommodation since Cele became police minister in February 2018. This translates to a staggering average of R1.4m a day. 

However, Ramaphosa stood by his minister, insisting that the expenditure noted by Steenhuisen was justified as it was incurred to fulfil the constitutional and statutory responsibilities of the police.

“There is no reason to replace a minister on the basis of expenditure that forms part of the operational requirements of the police service,” Ramaphosa said.

He added: “It is a well-established principle in jurisdictions across the world that the state should provide adequate protection to officials whose personal safety may be at risk by virtue of the positions they occupy.”

According to the South African leader, catering and accommodation were a normal part of the cost of running any police service.

“This includes instances where officials have to be accommodated away from their normal place of work due to specific operational needs and deployment requirements,” the president said. 

He cited the recent public order interventions such as operations to secure the national and local government elections as well as deployments in response to Covid-19 and the July 2021 unrest as some of the circumstances where the SAPS had to mobilise its officers for duty across the country.

NM/jn/APA

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