Police Minister Bheki Cele vowed on Monday to combat the plague of serious and violent crime, mainly aggravated robberies, that continue to grip the country.
Cele said the department would introduce a high-density stabilisation intervention. He was speaking at a media briefing at the South African Police Service training academy in Pretoria.
This will include high density and visibility of uniformed police officers on foot and police vehicles, supported by the police‘s air wing, regular cordon and search operations, roadblocks and relentless searches for wanted suspects.
Cele said, as part of the police‘s organised crime threat analysis approach, dedicated teams would be set up to track and arrest wanted suspects in crimes including cash-in-transit heists, hijackings, murders, house robberies, gang violence and related crimes and taxi violence and related crimes.
“To ensure a sustainable stabilisation of crime, we realised that we would also need to ensure a downward management of ‘red dockets‘ (cold cases). In this, dedicated detectives will be working around the clock to gather information and evidence to identify those responsible for committing serious and violent crimes.”
High-crime provinces such as Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape would be “boosted” with the deployment of lieutenant generals.
Illegal firearm amnesty
Cele also spoke about the prevalence of illegal firearms and how the police would deal with them.
“We will be giving the space of the amnesty, so that people can be able to bring back the guns that they don‘t need.
“We will be putting our plan [in place] to make life very tough for those who keep illegal firearms.”
There have also been allegations that police officers are involved in violent crimes including robberies and hijackings.
National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole said any police officer found to be involved in crime would be “flushed out of the system”.
“When we find out of their involvement, they join the criminals – we take own uniform and give them the orange uniform.”
10111 ‘beefed up‘, improved response times expected
Sitole himself was clad in camouflage police uniform, and said he would be wearing “this attire until the criminals retire”.
He said two lieutenant generals had recently been suspended and said he supported the Independent Police Investigation Directorate‘s investigation into officials who might be involved in crime.
“We are stabilising crime, but we are also stabilising the organisation, which means we are also cleaning the organisation. The police [service] does not exclude generals, we are all members of the police, including myself, but we only deal with those who have committed some misconduct.”
When asked about the police‘s response time to crime, Sitole said they had “beefed up” the 10111 call centre, adding that all helicopters been deployed for activation.
The police have also received 102 new high-powered vehicles.
“With our response times, I want to promise you that it will change.”