Bheki Cele, the Police Minister, on Wednesday said that he was not convinced that Julius Malema’s remarks, as the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were taken out of context, despite claims to the contrary. Malema addressed supporters in the Free State on Sunday and made several threats against the SAPS. “If South African police want a fight, they must declare it. We will treat them the same way we treated them in the 80s, we will not only fight them at the picket lines, we will go to their homes and fight them in their own houses with their own families…we will come for you one by one at your own comfort zone,” Malema was quoted as saying.
The comments were in response to violent scenes that played out during an anti-racism protest outside Brackenfell High School in Cape Town after an alleged ‘Whites Only’ matric ball.
Members and leaders of the red berets said that the minister was taking the remarks out of context, but Cele warned that there would be consequences against anyone who acted against police officers or their family members. “As a political organisation, the EFF and its leader have every right to express their views on the government of the day. However, the threat to the lives of the police, their loved ones, and their homes won’t be tolerated or allowed to happen,” said Cele in a statement.
AfriForum and Solidarity have lodged a criminal complaint against Malema for his comments, saying that more than 1,000 officers had reported their concerns after his threats.
“It is clear that Malema still believes that he is above the law. The reason why Malema makes these remarks in the first place is that to date there have been no consequences for all the previous incidents where he openly incited violence. If the police do not take this matter with the necessary seriousness, Malema will see it as a confirmation that he is indeed above the law,” said Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s head of policy and action, in a statement.