Who Is Bheki Cele, South African Politician And Anti-Apartheid Activist?


Bhekokwakhe Hamilton Cele, also known as Bheki Cele, is a politician and anti-apartheid activist from Southern Africa. He has served as South Africa’s Minister of Police since February 2018.

Bheki was also the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, a position he held until October 2011. He is the Minister of Police and was appointed by South Africa’s current president, President Cyril Ramaphosa, during his cabinet reshuffle in February 2018.

Early Life and Education

Bheki Cele was born on April 2, 1952 in Umzumbe, Natal, Union of South Africa. He is 70 years old and will turn 70 in April 2022. Bheki finishes his elementary and secondary school education in his hometown.

He has a diploma in both education and information technology. Initially, he desired to study law but was unable to do so due to financial constraints. Growing up was difficult for Bheki, which contributed to his strict personality. He witnessed apartheid in South Africa firsthand, as well as some protests.


Bheki Cele first entered politics in 1980. He became a founding member of South Africa’s progressive, non-racial National Education Union. While in exile in Angola, he joined the Umkhonto we Sizwe, the African National Congress’s parliament wing (ANC). He was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1987 and released in 1990 with other political prisoners.

Cele was elected to the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature in the 1994 election. During his tenure, he chaired the Portfolio Committee on Safety and later became the chairperson of the chairperson. He was also a member of KwaZulu-Executive Natal’s Council (MEC) for transport, community, and liaison.

Cele was appointed National Commissioner of the South African Police Service in July 2009. (SAPS). He was fired three years later due to allegations that he was involved in illegal deals. He served as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries from May 2014 until late February 2018, when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him Minister of Police.

Cele is a member of the African National Congress and currently serves on the National Executive Committee, the congress’s chief executive organ. He was the KwaZulu-Natal branch’s safety and security spokesperson in the mid-1990s. He was the party’s chairman in the eThekwini region in the 2000s.

Jacob Zuma has Cele as an ally. However, during the ANC leadership election, he supported Cyril Ramaphosa over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.


Cele, who was then the MEC for safety in KwaZulu-Natal, held a meeting in Durban in July 2007, according to the Sowetan, ordering police to’shoot to kill’ when confronting criminals. He also endorsed the use of deadly force by police, according to the Sowetans.

Although Cele denied using the phrase “shoot to kill,” he did admit to making other remarks such as “we cannot allow police to be killed by a criminal.” Cele sued the Sowetans in court for defamation in 2010, seeking R200,000 in damages based on its 2007 reports.

Cele sparked national outrage in 2009, shortly after taking over as National Commissioner of SAPS, when he allegedly repeated the’shoot to kill’ remarks on the weekend Argus. Cele reportedly stated during a discussion of a proposed change to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act that police should be allowed to “shoot to kill” offenders without regard for “what happens after that,” which defines justifications for the use of deadly force.

After being appointed as Minister of Police, Cele was interviewed about his comment in 2018, and he denied using the phrase “shoot to kill” once more. However, he added that when dealing with violent criminals, police officers must not die with their guns in their hands, and he stood firm on that statement. Since then, he has repeatedly reminded SAPS officers of the importance of using lethal force when necessary.

The Public Protectorate, Thuli Mandonsela, discovered that the government had leased out office buildings in Pretoria and Durban in 2011, when Cele was the National Commissioner of SAPS. The structure was originally intended to house police headquarters, but it was leased at exorbitant rates.

When the leases with Roux Property Fund were negotiated, they were worth more than R1.5 billion. Madonsela claimed the transactions were “illegal” and “illegitimate,” and blamed Cele and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde. She called the act “improper, unlawful, and tantamount to maladministration.” Cele, on the other hand, denied the accusation.

In October 2011, President Jacob Zuma suspended Cele’s pay until the investigation into the allegations of maladministration against him was completed. The matter was later brought before the board of inquiry, which concluded that Cele had committed illegal and corrupt acts. President Zuma ordered his removal from office in June 2012.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the Public Protectorate, charged Cele and the SAPS in 2018 with failing to provide personal security to two whistleblowers who had reported corruption in the Umzimkulu municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

Cele, on the other hand, challenged the report in court, and in 2020, the Gauteng North High Court invalidated it, exonerating Cele of all charges. The police are not required by law to provide personal security to witnesses and whistleblowers, the court ruled.

During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Cele’s police leadership was called into question, as he was accused of ‘excessive policing’ of lockdown compliance. Cele was also dragged for supporting strict gun control, claiming that private citizens should not be allowed to own firearms.

Personal Life

Bheki Cele married the love of his life, Thembeka Ngcobo, in 2010, and their marriage is still going strong, unlike that of other South African politicians and celebrities. The couple has a beautiful daughter named Kumbuza Cele, who society believes looks exactly like her father.

Cele has always been seen wearing a large hat in public. He is outspoken, strict, and divisive. He even infuriated South Africans by canceling the previous New Year’s Eve celebration due to COVID-19. Cele is not everyone’s favorite, and this is due to the various ideologies he has presented to the people of South Africa.

Net Worth

The Southern African Politician, Bheki Cele has an estimated net worth that ranges from $300,000-$1,000,000. All his income is said to have been gotten from his occupation as a civil servant.


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