Cele reiterates questionable GBV remarks: 'Where are friends and family?'

Police Minister Bheki Cele has said that condemnation of the South African Police Force (SAPS) and its member's behaviour is unfair, and there are simply "bad apples" giving the institution a bad reputation. 

Cele said on Tuesday 28 July that when it comes to Gender-Based Violence (GBV), police cannot be held wholly accountable for the scourge currently plaguing South Africa, saying that most of the reported killings are committed by the hand of a spouse, meaning there is little police can do in such situations. 

Here's what the Minister, who just can't seem to get his head around the severity of the danger women in South Africa find themselves in, and what is that police in this country need to be doing about it, had to say.

Cele claims 'bad apples' ruining SAPS' reputation 

Speaking to eNCA on Tuesday, Cele conceded the the large majority of South Africans do not feel safe in their communities, despite what he feels are a range of successes in rooting out individual crime categories. 

"It should not be the crime stats that tell the story, the people should tell the story that they are safe," he said. "There will be areas where people will say that life today is better than [before] and others where they say it is worse." 

He said that when it comes to GBV – an area the police minister's responses  have been heavily criticised – that police are doing good work in terms of having ensured that there are currently over 4 000 perpetrators serving life sentences in South Africa's overcrowded prisons. 

"The results tell us that there have been some good results in terms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa, the fact that there are over 4 000 people serving life sentences means that there are police who have done very well so that the judge or magistrate can sentence them for a long time." 

"Of course, there will be bad apples in our police family giving us a bad name, but there are others that are doing a very good job." 

GBV mostly happens in the home, what can SAPS do? – Cele 

Cele then he doubled down on his comments from Monday 27 July, and said that often police are not being fairly scrutinised for their roles in prevention. No, no. It is in fact the role of friends and family to ensure that women are not killed after having been attacked several times. 

"The statistics tell me that in the previous year, 30 000 women were raped in the home and places where they are supposed to be safe. Tell, me, what must the police do if you are raped by your own husband or boyfriend, an uncle? The core issue is a societal problem," he said.  

"By the time that a woman is killed, she is not attacked for the first time. For instance, the woman killed in Dobsonville by her taxi driver boyfriend, the brother said that this was the fifth attempt. The question is, where are the friends, where are the families when the previous attempts happened?"

"We have to as a society respond to the clarion call. We must say that something is amiss and we need to respond to it." 

He said that police are being trained to better handle women who enter police stations and report instances of GBV, but conceded that rotten apples exist in his institution. 

"There are rotten apples among ourselves," he said. "We have made operations standards that when a woman comes to report an incident, the officer's job is to go and investigate. We have tried to give extra training on such incidents to improve performance." 

He also said that he will stick to his assertion that police are not necessarily required to burden a higher responsibility of blame when they themselves commit such acts, again doubling down on unfortunate comments made with regards to a policeman who raped his wife earlier in 2020. 

At the time, Cele bemoaned the media's portrayal of the incident as something that should burden the police more than any other profession. He was deemed a "rape apologist" for the comments, and has stuck to his guns.

"The bottom line is that the husband raped the wife, it happened to be that the husband was a police officer. This is a bigger problem, 38 000 of these women are abused in their own homes. It's fine to say what job the perpetrator does, but such matters are watered down and the police are blamed."