Festive season anti-crime campaign highly successful – SAP Minister

The festive season anti-crime operations in South Africa were overwhelmingly successful. 

This was revealed by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP, reporting on the Operation Duty Calls National Festive Season Crime-Fighting campaign in Pretoria yesterday (15 January 2013).

 During the campaign from 15 October last year and that ends on 31 January this year, successes so far included searching 1 477 901 persons, 501 373 vehicles and conducting 3 614 road blocks.  In addition more than  67 000 (67 707) suspects were arrested in all nine provinces; ranging from murder, robberies, rape, assault, kidnapping, attempted murder, murder, burglary at houses and business premises, drug related crimes, fraud and shoplifting.

 “For the whole festive season, there were only 2 cash-in-transit robberies in the country and both occurred in the Eastern Cape,” the Minister said.  “We are happy to report that suspects were arrested and cases are now before court. 

“Further successes where we have witnessed significant declines were around the bank robberies, where only 2 robberies took place for the whole festive season.  One took place in the Western Cape and the other in Limpopo.  All other provinces witnessed zero robberies.”

Speaking at SAPS Tshwane Training Academy, Pretoria, the Minister revealed that the festive season campaign centred around a six-pillar approach focusing on aggravated robberies, border security, firearms, liquor and Second Hand Goods Act enforcement, by-law enforcements, crimes against women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly as well as road safety enforcement, the Minister said. The campaign was launched in Limpopo and a call was made to all stakeholders to partner and support the police in dealing with the scourge of crime. Various policing operations countrywide were embarked upon, interacting with communities, business sectors and various organised structures with an objective of intensifying the fight against crime. 

“During this period, we also issued a total of 51 191 fines to various offenders, ranging from traffic violations, illegally-operating liquor outlets and other by-laws such as customs,” the Minister further revealed. 

“We remain very concerned about the lack of adherence to the rules of the road, which as reported by the Department of Transport, have resulted in fatalities and loss of lives.  It is the responsibility of all of us to obey the rules of the road.  We arrested 2 751 suspects for driving under the influence, which is exceptionally high. 

“During this festive season, to date we confiscated 451 stolen vehicles nationally, confiscated 721 illegal firearms and 7 638 ammunition including 9 commercial explosives.  To this end, we arrested 296 suspects for theft of motor vehicles and motor cycles, nationally.” 

“We have emphasised our resolve to fight the scourge on drugs, which impacts negatively on our communities particularly the youth.  Our resolve is not merely to arrest the sniffers of drugs such as nyaope, woonga and tik, but we have now begun to crack the backbone of crime syndicates.” 

The Minister also related that during the campaign period so far 6 million grams of dagga, 2 832 grams of cocaine, 4 225 grams of nyaope, 2 551 grams of tik, including others were confiscated.  A total of 8 889 suspects were arrested during this period, for drug related crimes. 

Specific drug houses were raided and some of the kingpins arrested. This was achieved through information-sharing and coordination with our different units, including the Hawks, Crime Intelligence and Detectives.  

In one of the biggest busts, two laboratories were raided in one day (15 November 2012) at Randburg and Roodeport respectively.  Four suspects were arrested and drugs to the value of worth R30 million were confiscated.  In another drug bust in this month, in Chatsworth we confiscated cocaine, ecstasy and mandrax to the value on R5 million as well as R1,5 million cash.

“We are aware that resolving this challenge is not only about effective policing systems, but that society has a fundamental role to play, particularly the family orientation of some of these drug victims,” the Minister remarked.  “It is a societal challenge that must be tackled collectively.”

 The policing approach was not only focused on cities and urban areas but also rural areas as part of our rural safety plan, the minister said. He was pleased to report that 375 stolen cattle, 624 stolen sheep and other stolen livestock were confiscated.  “As part of sustaining these operations, we are looking into strengthening cooperation with some of our neighbouring countries.”

On the subject of various protests around the country in the last half of 2012, the minister reiterated the police’s stance around public protests.  “We respect the right of citizens to protests as that is a Constitutionally-enshrined right and we have no intentions to temper with these rights. 

“We however, firmly opposed to any violent, destruction of property, intimidation and murder of innocent people. These criminal acts, are being disguised and justified as public protests.

“We shall deal with any lawlessness, within the framework of the law and ensure that we defend all law-abiding citizens.  During the festive season we arrested 704 suspects for public violence and some of the cases are still before the courts.”

The minister said another notable progress centred around shopping malls.  “As many would recall, some few years back we experienced increases in attacks on shoppers at malls.  During the current festive season we are happy to report that not a single robbery was experienced at any of our malls.

 “We can also attribute our successes to the aspect of smart policing, which is anchored around using information, communication and technology (ICT) to fight crime.  Through various command centres at various provinces we are able to not share information about some of the most wanted suspects and improve our effectiveness. “

The Minister noted that over the past few years South Africans, in particular the residents of Gauteng, would become nervous anticipating violent and wild celebrations at Hillbrow.  These violent celebrations, at times leading to loss of lives, did not augur positively for the province and South Africa as a country. 

“That is why we began to pay attention to this area and as a result of proper planning, partnering with local communities what people experienced this time were very peaceful celebrations.  Not a single act of violence was reported.  We commend all our police officers for the sterling work and urge them to foster this good working-together.”

The Minister also said in recent years the smart-policing approach was emphasized. Systems are beginning to yield considerable successes in the fight against crime, provincially and nationally.

Police are now able to track criminal activities at key prime spots such as taxi ranks and malls through advanced high-tech systems.  The centre will enable for a more proactive and reactive responses by our intelligence for prioritised crime.

The fundamental aspect towards the success of these operations is that they were not natural or unsystematic occurrences influenced by sheer luck, the Minister pointed out.  These were achieved through partnerships, effective strategies, proper planning, focused and intelligence-led approaches. 

Although pleased with the successes of this festive season campaing a key lesson is that the work is incomplete, he said.  “The tasks ahead are still massive, yet we believe such successes will motivate our men and women in blue to work even harder.

“We still remain concerned about sexual offences and crimes such as rapes against women, children and the elderly.  For this period, we arrested 1 357 suspects for rape and 82 for attempted rape.  Our police officers are working around the clock to ensure that they secure harsher convictions of these suspects.

“We will continue with implementing and reviewing our plans, anchored under a philosophy of continuous improvement and training.  We emphasised the importance of the accelerating the transformational agenda of the department, into a professional service. 

“We are proud of the members of the SAPS who worked tirelessly during this period.  Their dedication towards the safekeeping of our society is a shining example of the kind of officers we expect.  While most of you were enjoying quality time with friends and relatives, these dedicated men and women in blue, carried their duties with vigour, determination and pride. 

We are strengthening command and control across the organisation.  We are improving our systems and move towards creating a professional police service.  A service that adheres to the Constitutional principles, a service that produces quality officers and a service that inspires hope to the citizens of our country.  To achieve this, we emphasised training as a fundamental programme for us. 

“We want to also focus all our energies in ensuring that we do not only arrest those who are on the wrong side of the law, but that we mainly secure convictions. We are re-enforcing our detective and investigative arms.  We shall not soften our tough approach on criminals. 

“We want to assure South Africans we have taken positive lessons from these festive season operations.  We have a plan, we have the commitment of our members and we shall sustain the momentum in the fight against crime,” the Minister added.

The minister also thanked all the media present at the occasion.

(edited)

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