Bheki Cele admits spooks' slip

Police minister Bheki Cele admitted that intelligence agencies could have done a better job in preventing and helping the government stop xenophobic attacks.
Police minister Bheki Cele admitted that intelligence agencies could have done a better job in preventing and helping the government stop xenophobic attacks.
Image: LULAMILE FENI

Police minister Bheki Cele has conceded that intelligence agencies could have done a better job in preventing and helping the government stop the xenophobic attacks in Gauteng.

Yesterday, Cele was questioned as to why intelligence agencies had failed to pick up, predict and prevent the violent xenophobic attacks before they spread.

Cele told journalists in Randburg, Johannesburg, that the three intelligence agencies in the police, defence and state had prevented many crimes from happening.

"There are many activities that are blocked before they happen. Last week, we arrested 12 [people] of what would have been a cash heist, in their base, because intelligence worked on it. Most of the cash heists that have been stopped have been stopped on the base before they attack," Cele said.

There has been concern as to why the intelligence agencies had failed to pick up planned attacks on foreign nationals with information already available in the public domain.

Cele conceded that some of the intelligence work could have been better in handling the xenophobic attacks which have caused diplomatic fallouts for South Africa.

"There are some areas where we may not have acted quickly, yet the information would have been there. Is the intelligence the best? Well, coming from whatever history and reason, it has not been the best but is improving, especially the one I work with."

Cele met with the business community yesterday to discuss problems that South African companies are facing as a backlash to xenophobic attacks.

MTN, Vodacom, MultiChoice and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry formed part of the discussion.

Already four MTN outlets were closed while two MultiChoice outlets have been attacked in Nigeria in retaliatory mob attacks in that country.

Cele said government had a plan to end the violence.

"No. We are not going to stand here and tell you the plan and then say to criminals you go and counter us. They [criminals] have strategies; we are not going to give them our plan."

A total of 12 people, mostly South Africans, have been killed in the violence and 639 people have been arrested.

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