The Citizen (KZN)

The price of Cele’s wings

- Vhahangwel­e Nemakonde

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has again questioned Police Minister Bheki Cele‘s travel costs, this time after he travelled to KwaZulu-Natal for a media briefing.

Although the party welcomed the arrest of the Kiernan “AKA” Forbes murder suspects, it criticised Cele for holding a press conference “to show South Africa that Saps is doing its job it is supposed to be doing”.

After the media briefing, DA shadow deputy minister of police Okkie Terblanche wrote a letter to the police minister asking what the total cost of arranging and staging the media briefing he held on 27 February in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, was.

The question included a detailed breakdown of the costs of flights, transfers, accommodat­ion, transport, broadcasti­ng and media-related and venue costs.

In response, the police ministry said the estimated total costs associated with the flight of the Saps Cessna Citation Sovereign aircraft to KwaZulu-Natal on 27 February were R176 945.

The aircraft was flown for two hours. It includes fuel, airframe maintenanc­e, labour and parts, engine restoratio­n and miscellane­ous costs.

According to the Aircraft Cost Calculator website, which the police department used to estimate the travel costs, the Cessna Sovereign requires a two-person crew.

“Please note that there were no other costs involved,” said Cele.

In the same month, Cele came under fire for using a Saps chopper at the ANC election manifesto at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

A video on social media showed the police minister arriving at the event in the chopper, sparking criticism from South Africans who accused the minister of abusing state resources.

The DA called for Cele to be billed in his personal capacity and a full Saps internal investigat­ion to review the process that authorised the use of the helicopter.

However, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the Saps chopper was deployed to the launch to monitor the large crowds.

“He was at the time conducting his constituti­onal responsibi­lity as a minister.”

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