JOHANNESBURG- Police Minister and ANC national executive committee member Bheki Cele surprised mourners at the funeral service of Vusi Zuma the son of former President Jacob Zuma when he pounced on fellow ANC members including Carl Niehaus whom he threatened with violence. Among ANC prominent members who witnessed the incident at Rhema Church in Randburg were former North West ANC chairperson and former premier Supra Mahumapelo and former Minister of Higher Education Hlengiwe Mkhize.
According to witnesses who spoke to Africa News 24-7, Cele approached Niehaus in an aggressive and threatening manner in the third row of the VIP section. He allegedly pushed Niehaus on the shoulder and told him not to refer to him in the media. This was apparently in reference to Niehaus having said in an interview with Vuyo Mvoko of eNCA that Cele was at the Imbizo on Land called by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
In the interview, Niehaus said despite being present, Cele did not clarify the correct position with regards to the ANC not having taken a decision about the Ingonyama Trust. The witnesses said Cele aggressively told Niehaus that he must shut up and that he would “sort him out”. It alleged Niehaus begged Cele not threaten him and appealed to him to show respect for the funeral, Zuma and the bereaved Zuma family.
Among those who confronted Cele and tried to restrain him were Radical Economic Transformation(RET) Champion chairperson, Nkosentsha Shezi. “ Mr. Cele was arrogant and also threatened me as well, telling me that he has been looking for me and that he would also sort me out, “ Shezi said. Contacted for a comment, Niehaus said: “I am really saddened by this behavior of a fellow comrade. He showed utter disrespect for the departed son of Msholozi and behaved in a thuggish manner in a church.”
“Comrade Cele’s threatening words and the threatening manner in which he approached me was abusive of both his positions as an ANC NEC member and the very sensitive and authoritative position as Minister of Police. I was left with the distinct impression, and I have no doubt that it was comrade Cele’s intention to make me feel like that.” I was also left with distinct impression that comrade Cele will use these authoritative positions to intimidate me and in his words “sort me out”, this a serious abuse of the authority that the ANC deployed him into.”
Added Niehaus: I will most definitely not be intimidated by such thuggish behavior.” Niehaus said he intended to lodge a complaint against Cele with, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, who is also the chairperson of the ANC Disciplinary Committee. “My letter containing my complaint against comrade Cele will be delivered to comrade Molewa on Monday the 9th of July.”
Africa News 24-7 contacted Cele but he did not answer his phone and neither did he respond to the messages left on his phone.