Bheki Cele allays terrorism fears ahead of busy weekend

Police minister Bheki Cele at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban after a security cluster briefing on Friday.
Police minister Bheki Cele at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban after a security cluster briefing on Friday.
Image: Mfundo Mkhize

Police minister Bheki Cele has allayed fears ahead of a busy weekend, with the country on high alert after a US embassy warning about possible terrorist attacks in Sandton.

“All of this, we are ready for it. Even if there were no threats, we would have prepared. When speaking to intelligence, they argued there was no information on the table,” he said.

Cele, accompanied by his deputy Cassel Mathale and police top brass, was speaking after meeting more than 2,000 police members deployed to Durban in anticipation of the certification ceremony of Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

The city is expecting more than 80,000 people at the weekend.

Cele said in the aftermath of the unrest in July last year, the country had seen a swirl of security threats, some of which proved not to be true.

“In August there were threats and also in September. Since then nothing major has happened. Security has been taken care of by law enforcement officers.”

He was emphatic there was no concrete information to lend credence to this week's US embassy alert. 

“Even if the [US] alert was not there, preparations would have been on the level. We invite people to come and honour the invite from the Zulu king,” said Cele.

He would not disclose the number of police officers who would be on the ground.

“The forces you see here are half the full complement. We have saturated the roads and highways that are identified, especially in the north and inland,” said Cele.

With more than 48,000 people expected to attend the event at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and thousands of others diverted to overflow facilities surrounding the stadium, fears were raised about a possible stampede.

Cele said the interministerial task team responsible for the event had planned for huge crowds and various possible scenarios.

“There is an overflow in the parks adjoining the stadium. We are very confident the numbers will be managed well. We made a call to police members to say while you look at the security of people, you also ought to look at the welfare of the people.”

Cele called on police officers to take full advantage of events that would be unfolding on the day.

“Your advantage is not to be a tourist. You must enjoy the landmark day when the king is given the certificate.”

He stressed the event deserved dignity and urged visitors to be on their best behaviour.

“You must behave at the highest level so this event is blessed as it supposed to be. Remember, the eyes of the world are on you. Be a good representative and do good.”


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