South Africa: Joburg CBD Raid Hailed a Success

Police Minister Bheki Cele has commended yesterday's joint operation crackdown on counterfeit goods in the Johannesburg Central Business District.

On Wednesday, Gauteng law enforcement agencies descended on the CBD in an intelligence-led operation focused on counterfeit goods and related criminal activities in the Johannesburg Central Business District.

They were accompanied by the Provincial Traffic Police and Saturation Unit, Immigration Officers (Home Affairs), SARS Customs, the Joburg Metro Police Department, and clothing brand owners.

Operations such as this have become regular in Gauteng after police in August last year launched "Operation O Kae Molao".

In a joint statement, stakeholders said during yesterday's operation, over 560 undocumented foreign nationals were taken in for processing.

"Their status in the country will be determined by the Department of Home Affairs while the Local Criminal Record Centre from the SAPS will determine criminal records," the statement read.

During the day long operation, unlicenced firearms were also recovered. Among the arms cache were six rifles, six pistols, four shotguns and hundreds of ammunition of varying calibres found in a room on the 12th floor of Medical One Shopping Centre in Rahima Moosa Street.

"A suspect was arrested for possession of unlicenced firearms and ammunition. The firearms will be subjected to ballistic testing to determine possible usage in the commission of crime," adds the statement.

Also recovered were:

- Large consignments of counterfeit goods, including clothing and sneakers, were found in different buildings. The monetary value is yet to be determined;

- Intelligence further led police to Lister Building where 46 vehicles including panel vans were found on different levels of the basement parking. The vehicles were loaded to capacity with more counterfeit goods which were confiscated by the police.

The confiscated goods will be disposed of in a similar manner as the last public disposal of over R500 million worth of counterfeit goods in April this year.

The stakeholders said it was worth noting the arrest of seven police officers for corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

"In the first incident, a Warrant Officer and four Constables were arrested at Johannesburg Central Police Station after they were caught attempting to resell confiscated goods back to the illegal traders," read the statement.

In the second incident, two members from the Tactical Response Team were arrested after police investigated a possible leak of information about the planned operation in the Johannesburg CBD.

The statement said the two were linked through investigation and on an eye witness account. Police believe the loot found in the 46 vehicles in the basement parking at Lister Building, could be the cargo that was removed the night before after the illegal traders had received a tip-off.

Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Elias commended the sterling work of the Crime Intelligence and Anti-Corruption unit who made sure the operation was a success.

"We certainly hope that the arrest of seven of our own will prove to the people of Gauteng that we are serious about eradicating crime, even if it means arresting our own. No one is above the law," the Commissioner emphasised.

General Mawela also thanked Gauteng's law abiding citizens for their continued support to "Operation O kae Molao" and for sharing credible information about known criminals in their respective spaces.

Counter Intelligence measures have been put in place to ensure that these illicit goods do not end up recycled back into the hands of criminals.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura also welcomed the arrest of criminals who trade in counterfeit goods.

"As South Africans we must work collectively to build our economy and create much needed jobs. We need to make a significant dent in the illegal trade of counterfeit goods as they pose an economic risk against our efforts as a country," said the Premier.

Cele visited the operations in the CBD and pledged his support.

"Bravo to the SAPS, we remain resolute of the capabilities of our men and women in blue. We told the nation that we will continue to stamp the authority of the State. We cannot have parallel governance with criminals, therefore we will continue to squeeze the space for criminals to zero regardless of race, gender or nationality," he said.

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