The politician dubbed “the cat in the hat” has a twofold approach to his new portfolio – police must uphold South Africa’s constitutional democracy rights, but when under attack they must fight with everything they have.

Speaking to City Press this week after returning to the police, this time as a minister and not the national commissioner who got the boot due to unlawful involvement in acquiring a new building for the police headquarters, Cele said he should be judged on the output of his work as commissioner.

“Look at the crime statistics of 2010/11 and look at murder because you can’t cheat with murder statistics. We reduced the number of murders to 16 000 from 18 000. The murder rate was going down by 1 000 every year before that, but we reduced it by 2 000 in that financial year. Do you know where the murder rate is now? It is at 19 000. There are things we are going to go back to and brush up on, but I won’t say what for now,” Cele said in an interview at his Cape Town office.

Cele said he hit the ground running this week and was still in the process of meeting heads of the different police units because he believes it is important to build coherence at that level to improve the management’s working relationship. He said management must pull together before dealing with the foot soldiers.