A Mpumalanga cop allegedly told Muslims he was busy arresting that it seemed their prophet Muhammad was 'bigger' than President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Even when he was apologising for a blatantly anti-Muslim slur by a police officer, Bheki Cele contrived to make it seem less outrageous, by calling it “unfortunate”.
Unfortunate, Minister, is something which happens by mistake … not something done deliberately, out of racist malice.
The insult came from a cop arresting a group of Muslims praying at a gathering in Mpumalanga.
The worshippers were in an illegal gathering in terms of the disaster regulations … as well as failing to observe social distancing. The cop allegedly told the Muslims that it seemed their prophet Muhammad was “bigger” than President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had proclaimed the restrictions.
This is in no way to make light of what the worshippers did. The restrictions are there for the benefit of all – to reduce the impact of the coronavirus – and no person, no religion, should be above that. The police were right to take action.
However, the incident was the latest in a series of brutal and uncouth engagements between ordinary people and security force personnel enforcing the lockdown.
Unless Cele cracks down hard on such behaviour – and this incident in particular – then cops and soldiers may believe they have the green light to act like thugs.
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