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Delft Community Calls Out Minister Cele for "Electioneering" during House Handover

Published February 28, 2024
4 months ago

In an event mired with controversy, Police Minister Bheki Cele's recent gesture of handing over a house to a destitute family in Delft has sparked intense debate and backlash from community members and opposition parties. They accuse the minister of using the event as a platform for electioneering, rather than addressing the dire crime situation in the area.

The South African Police Service (SAPS), led by Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola, identified a household in need and provided them with a new home. The recipient family, led by a 22-year-old woman taking care of her teenage brother, had been surviving on social grants since losing their parents. Such initiatives by the SAPS usually form part of their social responsibility projects, intended to offer some respite to victims of crime.

However, Delft, a community plagued by violence and high crime rates, has called out the minister for what they perceive as prioritizing public relations over public safety. Candice van der Rheede, a community worker, highlights the irony of celebrating the house handover when the everyday reality of the community involves grappling with crime and insufficient police resources.

Minister Cele urged the youth and community to protect the new home, emphasizing the importance of ubuntu and community solidarity against crime. Despite these calls for a collective stand against criminality, many residents are left feeling disillusioned, questioning the SAPS's effectiveness in providing them with the necessary protection and safety.

The ministry's spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, defended the event, stating that such projects are part of ongoing initiatives to foster better police-community relations and are not isolated to election periods. Yet, opposition voices from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the GOOD Party suggest that the police should not overstep their mandate into areas such as housing, particularly when such acts coincide suspiciously with the proximity of elections.

This critique gains further traction with recent criticisms of Cele using a police helicopter during the ANC manifesto launch, although its use was defended by the SAPS as part of the minister's official duties.

The Delft incident opens broader conversations about the role of public officials, the appropriate use of state resources, and the vital need for prioritizing crime prevention in vulnerable communities. With the upcoming elections, these contentious issues will undoubtedly be at the forefront of political debate and community concerns.

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