Cele: Unacceptable that Brendin Horner murder suspect had 16 previous arrests

Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the family of 21-year-old Brendin Horner, who was killed earlier this month, apparently by stock thieves.

FILE: Police Minister Bheki Cele releases the first quarter crime statistics for 2020/2021 at a media briefing on 14 August 2020. Picture: GCIS

BETHLEHEM - Police Minister Bheki Cele said that it was unacceptable on the part of police that a man who had been arrested 16 times was then able to allegedly kill a farmer in Paul Roux in the Free State.

Cele visited the family of 21-year-old Brendin Horner, who was killed earlier this month, apparently by stock thieves.

Tensions have been high in the Free State town, with concerns about a lack of policing and police working in cahoots with criminals.

Horner's body was found tied to a pole with a rope around his neck earlier this month.

After his meeting with the Horner family, Minister Cele revealed that one of the suspects in the murder had several run-ins with the law.

"Of the 16 times he's been arrested, he was found guilty four times and nine of those would have been the involvement with stock theft, others would be robbery and other minor things."

After this meeting, Cele moved to the Mitz Agricultural Union hall just outside Bethlehem to address a room full of local farmers.

"One specific area here is that you don't trust the police. I heard that the response that you have been reporting that you have a problem with police. This is the first time I've heard most of you saying 'ja' which means that something exists, so we'll have to work on it."

Cele said that he would return in three weeks with a way forward for the Senekal, Bethlehem and Paul Roux communities.

As tensions remain high in the Free State town of Senekal, Cele said that he was concerned about allegations that some police officers were working with criminals.

Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo have visited the farm town after some community members went on the rampage following the murder of Horner.

A group of angry community members damaged state property and torched a police vehicle during the court appearance of two suspects last week.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court denied farmer Andre Pienaar bail for his alleged involvement in setting the police van on fire and firing gunshots.

Cele said that it was unacceptable that police, who were supposed to uphold the law, were breaking it.

"There are allegations that our own police are involved in criminal activities here. There is some bad relationship of matters... Schippers can explain that there was a drawing of firearms from the police against him for whatever reason, but also he does say that out of 10 police there are two bad police and the rest will be good."

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