‘We still have time’: Bheki Cele on Zuma order, praises police at Nkandla after ‘insults’

Police minister Bheki Cele on Monday morning said there was “no crisis of time” to act against former president Jacob Zuma.

This after Zuma was found guilty of contempt of court for failure to comply with an order issued by the Constitutional Court to honour a summons to appear before the state capture inquiry.

He was sentenced to 15 months behind bars, and given five days to do so. If Zuma did not present himself at a police station, the court ordered that the police minister and commissioner of police must, within three days, “take all steps that are necessary and permissible in law to ensure” he is delivered to a correctional centre.

This would have meant the police had until Wednesday to act against Zuma, if he did not abide by the ruling.

In a last-ditch attempt to save himself from prison, Zuma has applied to the apex court to rescind its order.

Former president Jacob Zuma addressing his supporters at his homestead in Nkandla, KZN.
Former president Jacob Zuma addressing his supporters at his homestead in Nkandla, KZN. Picture: SANDILE NDLOVU

Cele said they had sought clarification on what steps to take.

“We’ve still got a lot of hours. We don’t have a crisis of time.

“We also hope that we will be getting clarification, because when we were given the instruction there were no other legal activities taking place.

“We have sought better clarification — are we waiting for the new activities that are happening in court or are we to continue as [per] the present instruction? So we still have time on that one.”

After the court order, dozens of supporters camped at the homestead to “protect” Zuma from incarceration. Crowds of people, many without masks, were seen marching together. It was also reported that supporters fired firearms mere metres away from Nkandla, an indication that some supporters were armed.

Cele has rubbished claims that police failed to act.

“Just because you don’t see us on TV, it doesn’t mean we are not there. We took good time in preparation of Nkandla.

“I want to congratulate the police for the way they behaved at Nkandla. There were more than 100 people coming from some hostels who were armed and were mingling within the people.

“Police knew that and had that information. They even tried to provoke the police by shooting those firearms in the air.

“There were many women and many children and police had to take a step back.”

If the police acted recklessly, blood would have been shed, Cele said.

“We had to absorb those insults … We have a reference point in SA — we have Marikana and we don’t want to go back there,” said Cele. He said the police had learnt a lot from Marikana and used “some suggestions” from the resulting Farlam commission.

By Iavan Pijoos -TimesLIVE