S/Africa: ‘I wanted to hear Zuma’s concerns’, says minister

South African Police Minister Bheki Cele's visit “to have tea for two” with former president Jacob Zuma at his home…

South African Police Minister Bheki Cele’s visit “to have tea for two” with former president Jacob Zuma at his home village of Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal was merely “to hear his concerns.”Speaking in Pretoria on Friday during a question-and-answer session following the release of his announcement on the latest crime statistics in the country, the minister said his three-hour-long meeting with Zuma at the former president’s Nkandla homestead on Thursday was to hear his concerns as a senior leader in the country, especially over his recent troubles with the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. 

The former president has boycotted appearing before the commission, accusing it of bias against him, with the judiciary turning his appearances into political grandstanding, he charged.

The commission has threatened to arrest and imprison him, with Zuma replying that he was not afraid of being locked up in jail but would not return to the hearings.  

When asked about the subject of his meeting with Zuma, Cele did not disclose exactly what the two men discussed, apart from saying that there was “nothing amiss about meeting the former president as he had not been arrested.”

“We spoke about several things, including things that are prevailing. The other question is why I should visit someone who is about to be arrested. I don’t know if he is about to be arrested. We were there to hear his concerns,” the minister said.

He added: “I was in Nkandla. I didn’t drink tea — but water. There are many cases where we make a visit if we can make a contribution to prevent a thing from happening and becoming a disaster. That’s it.” 

Zuma fired Cele during his controversial rule. President Cyril Ramaphosa, however, brought him back following Zuma’s unceremonious departure from the presidency over state capture allegations in February 2018.

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