Soldiers assist with close to 900 arrests in Operation Fiela

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Government’s Operation Fiela, aimed at cracking down on crime and restoring order in areas hit by xenophobic violence, has to date seen just on 900 arrests in seven provinces.

More than 300 soldiers have been deployed to support police in search and seizure operations. They have been relegated to the status of inter-ministerial committee member departments, according to the official government news agency.
“The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the lead agency in the operation and is supported by the provincial and municipal traffic departments and all the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) member departments,” SAnews reported.

Arrests, all made by police with soldiers providing increased and back-up security, have been made in Gauteng (414), KwaZulu-Natal (278), Eastern Cape (125) Free State (29), Western Cape (24), Northern Cape (10) and North West (nine) since Operation Fiela started last month.

The operation is a multi-disciplinary inter-departmental strategy aimed at ridding the country of illegal weapons, drug dens, prostitution rings, undocumented migrants, human trafficking, hijacked and condemned buildings and general lawlessness.

The increased visibility of security forces has so far resulted in calm in areas known for violence such as Thabazimbi in Limpopo, Thembelihle in the south of Johannesburg and Isipingo in KwaZulu-Natal, the agency said.

In addition to soldiers deployed on the ground, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has also made a C-130BZ available to the operation. It is based at AFB Waterkloof and is on standby for Operation Fiela duties until at least the end of June.