Cele's crime-fighting strategy: More boots on the ground
Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole announced on Monday a plan to tackle aggravated robberies, involving what he called “high-density stabilisation intervention”.
Cele’s announcement, at a press briefing, follows an increase in violent crime — in particular a renewed surge in targeted cash-in-transit heists, which the minister called acts of “terrorism” during a recent interview with the SABC.
“We will boost the deployment of lieutenant generals in the field, move resources to an operational level, deploy dedicated teams to track down and arrest wanted criminals,” Cele said.
The stabilisation operation will focus on Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces, which Cele said are most affected by the crime wave.
The South African Police Services (SAPS) will deploy all officers that are ordinarily tasked with administration duties to the field in an effort to “augment the visibility of police officers, particularly in identified hotspot areas in all provinces”.
This means that resources will be shifted closer to community level.
Cele said this effort to promote the high visibility of police officers on foot and in vehicles, will be supported by the SAPS air wing, continuous search operations, roadblocks and the “relentless search for wanted suspects”.
The minister said this plan involves “squeezing the space for criminals through an offensive approach”.
To tackle cash-in-transit heists Sitole said SAPS has partnered with the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) in a strategy that he said is fully aligned with the criminal justice chain. The partnership with Sabric entails engaging the private security companies that transport the cash in armoured vehicles, Sitole said.
There have reportedly been at least 140 cash-in-transit robberies since January.
Sitole added that the operation will have a major focus on illegal guns and will require an overhaul of crime intelligence.
Cele said, in order to ensure the success of the stabilisation project, cold cases of violent crime would have to be reprioritised. He said dedicated detectives will be tasked with gathering information and evidence to crack these cases.
CityPress reported on Sunday that Cele has ordered investigations into high-profile murders — including those of Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, North West businessman Wandile Bozwana and Rustenburg whistleblower Moss Phakoe — be reopened.
Cele also told CityPress he had instructed provincial commissioners to identify three high-profile cases for each province and to forward him the list, which they will be reopening.
Cele said the aim in reprioritising these cases is not to make other cases seem less important, but that the police should use the cases as starting point to assure the public that all the cases will get the attention they deserved.
“In many of these cases closure is needed and some families have been calling on my intervention. We cannot have murderers roaming the streets,” he said.