Efforts to combat aggravated robberies are paying off, with a significant reduction seen in Cash-in-Transit (CIT) heists, which dropped by 63% from April to June 2018.
From 15 April 2018 to June 2018, CIT robberies have declined by 63%, Police Minister Bheki Cele told a media briefing in Tembisa on Thursday.
According to the figures, Gauteng moved from 20 to seven CIT robberies. Mpumalanga moved from five to one, North West from three to zero, while the Western Cape and Eastern Cape stayed the same at two and four respectively.
A total of 42 people linked to CIT robberies have been arrested to date. Among those arrested is Wellington ‘Bibi’ Ceneda from Tembisa, the alleged kingpin behind more than 20 heists in Gauteng, the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
Ceneda, whose crimes amount to over R46 million, was arrested in the Free State last week and made his first court appearance on Monday, 20 August.
Ceneda’s alleged henchmen — Tauyaborwa “Spikiri” Machika, Sello “The Teacher” Senyatsi, Thato “The Bomber” Gaopatwe, Collen “Jabu” Mmamadi, Calvin “Boze” Molete, Paul “The Patriarch” Sibande, and Stanford “Madam” Dihangoane — have also been nabbed.
These arrests are part of the nationwide stabilisation operation known as Operation Buya Mthetho.
“Buya Mthetho” is an operational plan by the law enforcement leadership in Gauteng to respond to the clarion call by government for an urgent plan to address the surge in lawlessness, restore safety and ultimately restore public confidence in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster.
The multi-disciplinary investigative operation, consisting of members from Crime Intelligence, seasoned and experienced detectives and specialised tactical teams, has also seen the recovery of 48 firearms, 54 vehicles, 47 explosive devices and over 150 rounds of ammunition used in the heists. Millions of rands have been seized.
“We are serious about turning the tide. We will not rest until we win the war on crime. We are breaking the backs of the criminals in the CIT space,” Cele said before calling on community members to work with the police to apprehend suspects.
Reclaiming the streets from criminals
Operation Buya Mthetho is not only focused on CIT robberies but also other crime categories, which have also seen great improvements, especially in the City of Johannesburg. Mayor Herman Mashaba and Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina joined the Minister’s briefing.
In Tembisa alone, Cele said 84 suspects have been arrested in the last 36 hours for various crimes. The 84 suspects include four criminals on the country’s top 15 most wanted criminals.
“We are serious about ensuring that our people are and feel safe in line with Outcome 3 of the National Development Plan. Crime cannot only be a police issue. We need to partner with other law enforcement agencies like the metro police officers,” said Cele.
Going forward, the Minister said they will be focusing their efforts on ridding Gauteng province, the economic hub of the country, of crime. This will be done by increasing police visibility.
“We want to clean up Gauteng because 50% of the crime committed in South Africa happens in this province. That is why we gave Gauteng 54 high performance cars to deal with criminals.”
From illicit cigarettes to those who abuse women and children and hijackers, the Minister warned that they will be out to get the perpetrators.
Over 22 000 vehicles were hijacked in Gauteng alone in the previous financial year. Most of these cars, the Minister said, are used in CIT crimes, while others cross the border to neighbouring countries.
“We will continue to stamp the authority of the State in our efforts to prevent, combat and investigate crime and we will do this without any fear or favour,” Cele said.
He said they will also continue with their special focus and deal with issues of women safety.
“If needs be, we will go toe to toe with these criminals. I want to make a clarion call to police officers to be very hard on women abusers,” he said, adding that SAPS will now be working with the NPA to ensure that crimes against women are prioritised.
The Minister started his morning by engaging the community of Madelakufa informal settlement in Tembisa, who complained about high crime levels and service delivery issues, with housing topping the list.
Residents told the Minister and Masina that they moved to Madelakufa more than 15 years ago but are yet to receive houses, while others who have moved to the informal settlement more recently have already received their houses.
Masina, in turn, assured them that they have budgeted millions for the Clayville mega human settlements project, which will accommodate residents from Madelakufa.