Cele repeats “fight fire with fire” call


Police Minister Bheki Cele repeated his call for police to fight fire with fire “especially when their lives are threatened”.

Delivering the eulogy at the funeral of Constable Sphesihle Cele (26), a Public Order Policing (POP) unit policeman, shot and killed on 16 November while responding at a tavern in Empangeni, an SA government news site has it Cele said the deaths of 10 police officers “every month since April” was “appalling”.

While not going to the extreme of his police ministry colleague, Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale is reported as urging police officers to “use force proportional to the threat when under attack”. He, along with National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola were at another police funeral, this one in Gauteng.

“Don’t hesitate to use the resources we have given you to defend your communities and yourselves. Don’t hesitate to use force proportional to the threat; communities are depending on you for protection,” Mathale reportedly said.

With a rise in fatalities among police, Masemola assured those under his command “they will continue to be capacitated and empowered to respond to criminals and crime”.

“The killing of members will not deter us but instead it bolsters our efforts to fight crime. As the management of the service, the capacitation and resourcing of our members, remains an apex priority for management. We will continue to ensure members are tactically trained and well-resourced to defend communities.”

Crime statistics quoted by the Police Ministry show 35 officers were killed on and off duty between July and September 2023. Since the start of the financial year in April, 78 officers were killed in South Africa.