Normal policing – including Vala Umgodi – continues during election period

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Those operating outside the law in South Africa should not be emboldened by the police and security focus this week on national and provincial elections – the country’s second highest ranking police officer warned there will be no let-up in normal policing operations.

A NatJOINTS (National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure) pre-election briefing in Pretoria at the weekend heard “normal day-to-day policing in the form of tracing operations, roadblocks, stop and searches and patrols will continue. The message was delivered by SA Police Service (SAPS) Deputy National Commissioner also NatJOINTS co-chair, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili, who pointed to the arrest of more than 643 000 suspects in the year Operation Shanela has been running.

She added another ongoing police operation Vala Umgodi – in which the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) by way of the SA Army contributes substantially – is also ongoing while pre, post and Election Day incidents receive special attention.

The operation to curb illegal mining is now in its sixth month with more than 6 500 suspects arrested nationally in the five months to end April. Mosikili said police, soldiers and officials from the departments of Home Affairs and Mineral Resources and Energy contributed to the recovery of uncut diamonds worth R32 million as well as 174 unlicensed firearms and five thousand rounds of ammunition. Home Affairs oversaw the deportment of 34 600 plus illegal immigrants linked to illicit mining operations in the first five months of Vala Umgodi.

Another ongoing police operation, Shanela, with its backbone in daily taskings including tracing, stop and search, roadblocks and patrols, saw 643 600 plus suspects arrested in a similar timeframe.

Both operations now have extra resources in the form of 78 vehicles, Mosikili told the briefing. The vehicles will be put to use in the seven identified provinces where illegal mining takes place and “will go a long way in assisting us to prevent, combat and put a stop to illegal mining operations” the Deputy National Commissioner said.

The initial military involvement in Vala Umgodi ended on 25 April and was extended for a further six months to 31 October by Presidential notification to National Assembly (NA) Acting Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli. Just over three thousand SANDF personnel, the majority from the SA Army Infantry Formation, will support police on “disruptive actions” to halt illegal mining.