Police Minister Fikile Mbalula this week launched Operation Fiela II that will see a minimum of 10 government departments and agencies involved in “rooting out criminals and shutting down crime hotspots”.
Speaking in Johannesburg he said: “We cannot coexist with criminals in this country and for us it matters not what nationality they are, as long as they are committing crime, we will clamp down on them”.
The first iteration of Operation Fiela in 2015 was a government response to xenophobic attacks which started in KwaZulu-Natal and then spread to Gauteng and other provinces including the Western Cape. SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements, mainly infantry, were deployed then to provide perimeter security to police undertaking raids on suspect areas and premises. It was said at the time the soldiers were only there to ensure the safety of police but this was disputed, although nothing ever came of it.
Ahead of the launch function at Johannesburg’s Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, an advisory indicated the South African Police Service (SAPS), SA Revenue Service, Metro Police, National Prosecuting Authority, Justice and Correctional Services and departments of Home Affairs, Labour, Agriculture, Defence and Home Affairs, and “other institutions mandated to enforce the law” would be the spine of Operation Fiela II.
Speaking at the launch recently appointed National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole said the difference between Fiela I and II was “the crucial aspect which aims to ensure criminals are dealt with effectively” via closing down crime hotspots.
“The first operation only had the two principles – to arrest and remove. Operation Fiela II has three, which are to arrest, remove and close down. The close down is an important part because it will ensure crime hotspots are shut and can no longer operate,” Sitole said.
Fiela II follows a decision taken by Cabinet to reinforce the National Development Plan (NDP) on building safer communities and will run for a year before being reviewed by Cabinet. Fiela II forms part of a multi-disciplinary, integrated approach to crime by government that includes all law enforcement agencies and departments.
As s joint operation, the success of Fiela II is dependent on the ability of government at all three levels – national, provincial and local – to work together, Mbalula said.
No details were disclosed of where and when the first Fiela II actions would take place, nor were any personnel numbers made public.