Police are cracking down on cash-in-transit (CIT) heists, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Tuesday, adding that 237 suspects had been arrested since April this year.
During a media briefing in Tshwane, Cele said more than 200 suspects had been held in connection with CIT robberies, 92 vehicles had been recovered, and 78 firearms and 1 402 rounds of ammunition had been seized during the arrests.
“A substantial amount of money has also been recovered,” Cele said.
36% decrease in CIT heists
The minister added that 118 CIT heists had been recorded across the provinces between April 4 and November 4, the same time period that the arrests were made. This was down by 36% in the previous year, when 184 cases had been recorded.
“However, during the latter period we have a significantly higher number of culprits being arrested, compared to the former period.”
Cele attributed the arrests to the mobilisation of the 72-hour “activation plan”, but said there was still more work to be done and that “we are not out of the woods yet”.
Cele explained that the activation plan entailed the maximum mobilisation of resources — including crime intelligence, forensic experts, the Hawks, seasoned detectives and tactical teams — for a 72-hour period to ensure that critical information, intelligence and evidence was gathered.
He added that high profile targets wanted for CIT robberies were among those arrested.
Police foil CIT heist plots
Crime intelligence operations had also yielded results, with a number of suspects being arrested while plotting to commit CIT robberies.
“Nearly 30 suspects were arrested in Midrand and Katlehong in the Gauteng province, as well as Riviera Park in Mahikeng and Brits in the North West province,” said Cele.
In October, police stopped 12 men who were allegedly in the midst of planning a CIT robbery.
According to police, a tracking team comprising of Crime Intelligence, the Hawks, forensic experts and other units acted on the information and pounced on the suspects at a house in Midrand.
Two rifles, a pistol, several rounds of ammunition and six hijacked vehicles were recovered at the house.
“I can report that we have made significant inroads in breaking the backs of the syndicates involved in CIT robberies. While I am satisfied with the progress, our fight with these criminals is far from over,” Cele told media on Tuesday.
“This is one of the crimes that seem to instil a tremendous amounts of fear in South Africans.”
A number of police involved in CIT robberies
In response to a question, national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole told media that a number of police officers were among those arrested for the CIT heists.
“In the investigations there are quite a few numbers that include metros (metro police) and a number of police that have been arrested,” he said.
Sitole said that he did not have the numbers on hand, but the figures could be made available. He added that a number of internal investigations were taking place and that they had already been fruitful.
The commissioner added that a number of police officers had been dismissed and others had been suspended.
He also said that a lifestyle audit of police officers was currently under way and that the HR policy framework had been reviewed in January to allow for further vetting and lifestyle audits.
The audits follow from a call made by President Cyril Ramaphosa. — News24