Government is making inroads into destroying criminal activities as well as syndicates and has vowed to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that criminals are dealt with, says Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise.
“We will make sure that as the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster, we create a safe and secure environment for our people to live [in],” Modise said on Friday.
The Minister was addressing a JCPS cluster media briefing to provide progress made in combating organised crime which she said, is a growing concern as it negatively impacts on the livelihood of citizens, the economy and compromises the safety and security of people.
“South Africans have borne the wrath of criminals masquerading in our communities causing disruption in their daily lives. In some parts of our communities, extortion and protection fees demanded by criminal syndicates have become the order of the day.”
She added that infrastructure mafias continue to destabilise the construction industry through intimidation and the threatening of people’s lives.
“These and other criminal activities have put fear in our people and undermine the authority of the state.”
Through the South African Police Services’ Operation Shanela, South Africa has adopted a decisive approach in reducing the high levels of crime.
Operation Shanela is the SAPS crime combating high density operations incepted in May 2023.
“It is through Operation Shanela, that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has successfully arrested 213 059 suspects for various crimes such as cash-in transit robberies, extortion at construction sites and kidnappings in the past six months.
“During the same period, 2 657 illegal and unwanted firearms were confiscated,” Modise said.
The operation has led to the arrest of 19 299 suspects who were arrested for drug possession while 7 580 were arrested for drug trafficking and dealing in the last six months.
On cash-in-transit (CIT) heists and crimes associated with it, law enforcement agencies continue to make inroads with the police having arrested 75 wanted suspects in the past six months.
“The arrests were made during foiled CIT attempts, during the commission of these crimes and during targeted tracing operations,” she said.
On the drugs front, the latest drug busts are a clear indication that government remains committed to the fight against drug trafficking. Law enforcement is hard at work in identifying emerging trends in the transportation and packaging of these drugs and closing down of clandestine laboratories.
“It is therefore encouraging that nine drug laboratories worth more than R3 million were dismantled in Gauteng, North West and the Western Cape. In a space of three weeks, police have intercepted large quantities of cocaine in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
“The latest cocaine consignment was seized last week at the sea port in Gqeberha where R65 million worth of cocaine was seized from a vessel that was coming in from Brazil,” Modise said.
Two other drugs busts were made in KwaZulu-Natal where R150 million worth of cocaine was seized in the space of two days.
With regard to extortion at economic and construction sites, Modise said various threats were identified that impact negatively on the economy of the country.
“From April 2023 to date, 61 suspects linked to these extortions were arrested. Since 2019, 27 accused have already been convicted for a collective 43 years direct imprisonment.”
On kidnapping for ransom, Modise said from April 2023 to date, 98 suspects have been arrested for these crimes and more than 30 victims have been rescued.
The cluster said government continues to deploy Anti-Gang-Unit members in provinces prone to gang violence such as the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
“190 arrests have thus far been effected in 145 cases,” she said.
Also speaking at the media briefing held in Pretoria was Police Minister, Bheki Cele, who said police operations are continuing to ensure that criminals are flushed out.
“They are interfering with the lives of communities. They are armed, they need to be pursued,” he said, adding that law enforcement has identified some of the people involved in illegal mining and is on their trail.
“Some of these people are from our neighbouring countries and relevant Ministers are dealing with the matter. We are hoping to find a lasting solution to this matter,” he said.
Responding to a question on illegal mining, Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said there is a plan to seal all the illegal mines.
“The Department of Mineral Resources is working on the policy matter to close all the illegal mines in the country,” Ntshavheni said.
Ntshavheni said some of the mine owners can’t be traced.
Modise said in the past twelve months, government has witnessed an increase in incidents where illegal miners held communities at ransom, committing various violent crimes, including murder and rape.
“Illegal mining has also been linked to other organised crimes such as gangsterism, human trafficking, money laundering, dealing in illegal weapons and explosives, tax evasion, illegal immigration and transnational organised crimes,” she said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has roped in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to assist in dealing with illegal mining in the country. – SAnews.gov.za