Bheki Cele. Picture: SAPA
Bheki Cele. Picture: SAPA

FORMER police chief Bheki Cele says he is confident that South African police can handle threats and situations similar to the recent terrorist attack in Kenya.

He said there were many threats posed by the extremist organisations ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup but the country was able to spread its intelligence gathering efforts and thwart all potential attacks.

"At some stage I actually said I slept peacefully at night ahead of the World Cup but actually I was very scared because of the threat we had against that event," Mr Cele told the Durban-based Gagasi FM’s Alex and the Crew morning show.

The former top cop is increasingly outspoken in an apparent bid to restart his political career after he was fired over major tenders for the lease of police offices.

Earlier in September, Mr Cele addressed an African National Congress (ANC) Youth League anniversary rally where he lashed at Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema and Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko. Both pose a threat to the ANC, especially among the youth.

Yesterday Mr Cele again said he could have prevented the Marikana fiasco in which a total of 44 people were killed last year — 34 of them at the hands of the police.

"There were many potential Marikanas during my tenure. One of them was during the death of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene Tereblanche. The situation was explosive and rightwing members and leaders wanted to take the law into their own hands. On the other hand people from the local Vredesdorp township were equally outraged.

"Myself and Police Minister Mr (Nathi) Mthethwa went out there and spoke to the leaders of the right wing and the communities to calm down the situation. I am glad to say we managed to defuse the situation," he said.

Mr Cele also said he had only spoken once to his successor Riya Phiyega.

The latest national crime statistics have been described as the worst in nearly a decade — indicating shortcomings in the fight against crime.

Mr Cele said many people still greeted him wherever he went, in appreciation of his efforts. He declined to discuss the performance of Ms Phiyega, saying he wanted to give her "space" to do her work without interference.

Mr Cele said he has approached the courts about the findings made by commission headed by Judge Jake Moloi, which the president relied on to fire him.

"My working relationship with President Jacob Zuma is still cordial. We meet from time to time and joke. I know that he did not wake up one morning and decided to fire me but relied on the findings of the Moloi Commission to take action," he said.

Mr Cele is a member of the ANC’s top decision-making body, the national executive committee but is technically unemployed.

He said he would be working toward an ANC victory in the upcoming elections and is ready to be deployed by the party at any level.

"I am ready for any role that the ANC will give me. It is not in the ANC culture to say I want this or that position. It is ANC members who elect you and it is up to the leadership to decide that so and so can do this job."