New top cop warns criminals

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pretoria - Tough talking new National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele had some hard-hitting words for criminals as he took up the position of the country's top police officer on Wednesday.

President Jacob Zuma announced that Mr Cele will take up his new role on 2 August and will replace Jackie Selebi, whose contract ends on Friday.

"People say all sorts of things about me. They say I'm abrasive ... but you can't be nice to criminals; you can't be running around kissing crime because you are dealing with tough guys," said Mr Cele.

Known for his tough stance on crime as MEC for Transport and Community Safety in Kwazulu Natal, Mr Cele did not mince his words, vowing he will not be approaching the country's rampant crime with a nice face.

His vision is to see a country where a young girl could walk any time of the night without being attacked. "That is a kind of South Africa, I would like to see," he said.

President Zuma said Mr Cele was a perfect choice for the job and hailed him for his role in finding solutions to the taxi violence in KwaZulu- Natal.

Since 1994, Mr Cele has been serving as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature on the Safety and Security portfolio committee.

Since his appointment as Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Mr Cele has had a busy schedule, meeting with senior management in the transport department and senior police officers to create synergy between the two departments.

"We have no doubt that Mr Cele will lead the SAPS efficiently and effectively. He takes over the leadership of SAPS just as government forges ahead to improve its capacity," President Zuma said.

The President said as part of improving the capacity of the country's police service, the number of police personnel will be increased from 180 000 to more than 200 000, with more focus to be given to increased visibility and enhancing crime detection.

President Zuma also said a programme was already underway to train more than 12 000 police personnel in detectives related positions.

He said the Ministry of Police was in the process of forming a dedicated unit to focus on deepening interaction with communities.