South Africa: Over 140 Arrested in Western Cape Natjoints Operations

Over 140 suspects have been arrested during National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) operations around the Western Cape since Thursday morning, Police Minister Bheki Cele says.

During the multi-disciplinary, integrated high density operations in the areas of Philipi, Steenberg and Delft, 143 suspects were arrested for crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH), aggravated robberies, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, and possession of drugs, among others.

According to a SAPS statement, members recovered drugs including tik, mandrax and cannabis; arms and ammunition and hi-jacked vehicles.

While drugs and alcohol have been accepted as generating serious crimes in the areas, the operations are considered to be a resounding success and are expected to continue for at least another three months until the affected communities are normalised.

The operations come after the Minister announced earlier this week that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to authorise the deployment of the army into areas in the province that are plagued by gangsterism and drug abuse.

The President has since given the approval of the employment of the SANDF.

The successful operations at the weekend did not involve the deployment of the army.

Police tipping off gang leaders

Cele was speaking at a media briefing at the end of a two-day police summit at the SA Police Service Academy in Paarl.

In response to a question on how police corruption, particularly in relation to allegations that police were tipping off gang leaders ahead of sting operations, was being addressed, the Minister said arrests have been made.

"There are prosecutors who have been arrested. We are working on that," he said, adding that three days ago five police members were arrested.

"We believe that one day we will win that internal war. And when we win that war, we are willing to [arrest] corrupt politicians, corrupt councillors, corrupt CEOs," he said.

Cele said gangsters who attempt to go to ground as operations to arrest them are intensified will be hunted down and that "there is no place for them to hide".

He said NatJoints structures were aware of the fact that some of them have ran off to other provinces like KwaZulu-Natal.

Outcomes of the Summit

Cele said, meanwhile, the summit had been about listening to communities' concerns around crime in their respective areas and what they would like police to do.

The summit saw delegates being divided into five sessions were various topics were discussed, including finding solutions to violent crime; societal pre-conditions contributing to violent crime; a more effective police service approach in a clustered manner; crime reporting data; and community involvement in the fight against violent crime.

"One of the main outcomes is that the communities felt that community policing forums (CPFs) and some of the other NGOs were not properly represented and they did not properly make their inputs.

"It was then agreed that in two weeks, there will be a bigger coming together of the CPFs and community organisations that will make an input of what they think should be done by government from three spheres in fighting crime," he said.

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