Sat Oct 22 13:51:33 SAST 2016

Catch those crooks Ndosi

By unknown | Jul 31, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

A colleague became convulsed with laughter when I confidently asserted that the irreverent Bheki Cele would make a great police commissioner.

A colleague became convulsed with laughter when I confidently asserted that the irreverent Bheki Cele would make a great police commissioner.

"No way, the man is a clown," she objected. "He has no restraint and doesn't understand the law. And look at those ridiculous hats."

That was seven months ago and it gave me great pleasure this week to tell her - rather smugly, I might add - "I told you so."

Long before there was speculation about the flamboyant MEC from KwaZulu-Natal becoming national police commissioner I decided he was the man for the job.

That moment came when he confronted the managers of SA Roadlink after one of the bus company's notoriously deadly accidents.

Last December 11 people lost their lives and the company was suspected of having been negligent.

A chronology of accidents involving SA Roadlink shows that Cele was not off the mark when he looked a manager in the eye at the scene of the accident and told him repeatedly: "You guys have no heart."

A while later I interviewed him on radio and asked him if it was true that KZN law enforcers pick on Joburg drivers when they visit the coast. I thought he would deny it and give the obligatory response so typical of politicians: "We will investigate."

I was taken aback when he proudly declared: "Yes, of course we pick on you. You come here with your big cars and disrespect our rules. We won't take that."

I then asked him if it's true that KZN police are only visible during December as a PR exercise and then disappear for the rest of the year.

"Come to KZN now, break the law and I will arrest you,"he retorted.

Cele was also comical when he boasted that his cops were lean and up to the task of chasing criminals.

"We don't want fat stomachs here," he said.

A bit of a nutcase, perhaps, but that's not a crime.

I am sure he is as sly as any politician. Gloves come off easily and sharp knives find their targets' backs in the battle for influence and supremacy.

But there is something both frightening and comforting about Cele's rabble-rousing ways. He has the appearance of someone addicted to throwing his weight around.

Every time the TV cameras are on him he is almost foaming at the mouth, swinging his arms dramatically, confronting someone and wagging his finger in his poor victim's face.

Looking at Cele prancing up and down, ready for battle, I get a sense that if the walls of Jericho are going to come tumbling down he will fight to be the last man standing.

I have no problem with the top crime fighter being gallant and fearless.

The verbose, overweight, softly-softly wimps have reached their sell-by dates.

Even criminals know this and that is why they are so brazen and brutal.

We are tired of uninspiring leaders who pontificate about crime statistics and theories, while we feel unsafe in our own homes.

It is time for action, which means a police commissioner who is energetic and rough and will hopefully inject some life into the often lethargic police service.

The inertia that has characterised the police's response to crime must stop. And, boy, I hope Cele is the man to achieve this. He looks the part and that's comforting for now.

But he has to remember that in order to gain respect he must not abuse his power like he did when he demanded that journalist's reveal the identify of a motorist who had complained about former KZN premier Sbu Ndebele's motorcade.

Get them, Ndosi!


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