By Sikelelwa Mfundisi
photo by google
Police Minister Bheki Cele praised the South African Police Service (SAPS) for its intelligence-driven operations and high-density initiatives in fighting criminal activities. Several dangerous and entrenched criminals have been arrested and assets worth millions of rands and illegal firearms confiscated in recent operations, contributing to improved public safety.
As part of a media briefing, Minister Bheki Cele highlighted covert operations that resulted in multiple arrests, sometimes with violent confrontations leading to the deaths of suspects who resisted arrest. It is evident from these meticulously executed ‘take-downs’ that law enforcement officers are dedicated to fighting crime in both affluent and impoverished areas.
Minister Cele stressed the critical role of Crime Intelligence in dismantling armed and ruthless criminal gangs, highlighting one significant success in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, where a cash-in-transit heist was thwarted, resulting in the arrest of three suspects and the deaths of four others. As exemplified by the Hoedspruit Farmwatchers, this operation demonstrated effective collaboration between SAPS and local communities.
One of the individuals apprehended was a Mozambican national linked to various crimes, including the murder of a police officer, car hijackings, robberies at homes, banks, and businesses, and fraud. Some of the stolen money was recovered, as well as a pistol and a rifle.
A team led by the Anti-Kidnapping Task Team successfully rescued an 18-year-old student from Wits University who had been kidnapped by a syndicate in Gauteng. Using a popular dating app, this criminal group targeted members of the LGBTQI+ community. It disrupted the syndicate’s activities, which had been responsible for over 50 kidnappings accompanied by ransom demands.
An intelligence-driven operation in the North West province led to the arrests of seven suspects suspected of kidnapping victims for ransom in connection with municipality tenders. It is believed that the victims were lured to a location under the pretence of signing contracts for a solar geyser project worth R17 million. Posing as police officers, the suspects held the victim’s hostage and demanded R300,000.
Apart from these successes, efforts to combat illegal mining syndicates also achieved notable results. Multiple arrests were made, and valuable mining equipment and coal were confiscated from an illicit coal mine in Mpumalanga. The authorities began a manhunt for the owner of the illegal mine. Furthermore, the ongoing battle against cash-in-transit (CIT) heists proved effective, culminating in the interception of a CIT syndicate operating across Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo. A protracted standoff between law enforcement and the suspects ensued, resulting in a tragic exchange of gunfire in which 19 suspects, including two women, lost their lives.
Emanguzi, a region in northern KwaZulu-Natal, was also successfully restored to safety and security by Minister Cele. Residents of this area have long been afraid of cross-border motor vehicle theft syndicates. Dedicated task forces have arrested 140 suspects since their formation on February 1, recovering 64 stolen vehicles and confiscating 57 firearms. The police apprehended three of the region’s most wanted cross-border vehicle smuggling suspects in August. They were also implicated in the murder of Juda Mthethwa, a prominent KZN anti-crime activist who was killed in February in a deliberate attack outside his home.
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