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Prioritise protection of women, children - Bheki Cele

Police minister Bheki Cele speaking with a motorist on the N4 in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, yesterday.
Police minister Bheki Cele speaking with a motorist on the N4 in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, yesterday.

Police minister Bheki Cele has called on law enforcement officers to prioritise the protection of women and children over the festive season.

Speaking at a festive season campaign in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, yesterday, Cele also urged police officers to refrain from using their guns to shoot their girlfriends, boyfriends and people who get involved with their partners.

Cele told SAPS members, Sars and home affairs officials and soldiers that the protection of women and children should take center stage this festive season.

"Remember, this is in the province that is huge, besides coastal provinces where people come here for Christmas. This province still claims the big potion of tourists both international and national, and you should know that for this province to continue being the gold mine of tourism, we must make sure that tourists are protected," Cele said.

"When people see you, they must feel hope but for some reason Satan has fallen to this world. Satan has fallen to men. When you see a man these days, you see a devil. I don't know why men treat women as they do.

"I don't know [why] men think they own women. I don't know why men think women are there to be raped, abused and murdered."

He urged the officials not to have sympathy for those who rape and abuse women and children.

"Especially, male officers, when women come to report at the police station that have been abused by a dirty or an ugly boyfriend, don't tell that woman to go back and negotiate.

"When she comes for the first time, you tell her to go back and negotiate, she comes for the second time and you tell her to go back and negotiate, she won't come for the third time because by then, she is dead," the minister said.

He said police officers who tell women to negotiate with their abusers must come to him so that he send them to Syria where there's war.

"We don't negotiate here, you don't tell women to go back and negotiate, but you go and arrest that ugly man because he's ugly in their heads and their actions. If you want to negotiate come here I will send you to Syria. You don't ask women why they are wearing short skirts, you are not fashion advisors here."

Cele decried the rise in cash-in-transit heists in Mpumalanga and called on the police to use their guns if they needed to defend ordinary citizens and themselves.

"If I look at most of you here, we have given you tools of trade. We give doctors stethoscopes, teachers chalks and we give you tools. When the disengagement comes, there should be one man standing which is the member of the South African Police Service. We are not here to bury you."

He said criminals must have sleepless nights, adding that they can't co-govern with criminals. Section 49, of the Criminal Procedures Act says if the life of an ordinary innocent [person] is under attack, you must use your tools.

And you are also human beings, you have [the] rights to defend yourself. The law further says you have a right to use deadly force... use the tools and don't be scared here as long as you use the tools within the law."

He, however, cautioned: "But if you take these guns and tools and shoot your boyfriends and girlfriends, we won't defend you."

Cele said law enforcement officers must not take leave this festive season and said they would be paid for overtime. Cele later joined a roadblock on the N4 and two unroadworthy mini buses were impounded.

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