‘Police ministry remains unapologetic in decisive response to crime’

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Police Minister Bheki Cele says his ministry has noted the continued mixed reactions to the recent police raid that resulted in the death of suspects.

Nine suspected criminals, wanted for a series of violent crimes, were shot and killed by police in Mariannhill, west of Durban last week.

Cele says the Police Ministry remains unapologetic in its decisive response to crime.

109 police officers have died over the past 11 months, with 36 of those killed in the line of duty. Cele briefed the media in Pretoria on the successes of the police.

Addressing the media in Pretoria on Sunday on the successes of the SAPS’ Operation Shanela, Cele says that the police have had success in cases involving violent crimes.

He has warned that police officers will not hesitate to protect themselves and the communities they serve against attacks by criminals.

Strong public discourse followed the recent police takedowns, with some questioning the intent. Police Minister Bheki Cele has come to the defence of the men and women in blue.

Since May last year 36 of the 109 police officers died at the hands of criminals. 83 suspects have been arrested in connection with these killings.

Cele says while they welcome the arrest of criminals, those who choose to fight the police instead of surrendering will bear the consequences.

“There’s IPID that is there to investigate the actions of the police in such cases. We wish to allow those processes to unfold. With that said, the ministry and SAPS management remain in support of the men and women in blue who are at the coalface of hardened criminals. Our message is clear, no police officer should die with a gun in their hand. We call on them to be vigilant and protect themselves.”

Intelligence-led operations

Cele says these takedowns are intelligence-led operations by Specialised forces. From April last year date, 171 Intelligence takedowns were conducted by the police which involved months of planning, surveillance and monitoring of targets. He says this is because of the revived crime intelligence division.

“The SAPS Crime Intelligence Division has been rejuvenated and bolstered to identify and infiltrate syndicates. Intervention units and tactical response teams of the SAPS continue to be capacitated. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations and overall detection of organised crime is sharper than ever. The combination of all these policing services is decisively responding to crime, especially to violent and serious crime.”

More than half a million suspected criminals were arrested countrywide, since April last year during the police’s Operation Shanela. Cele says suspects were nabbed for crimes including murder, car hijackings, drugs and illicit mining.

“Over 500 000 suspected criminals have been removed from society and brought before the courts to answer for their alleged crimes. Exactly 551 506 suspects have been arrested for various crimes across the country since May 2023 when Operation Shanela was introduced. Officers in blue in all 9 provinces, led by the respective Provincial Commissioners, have conducted almost 70 000 (69 468) high-density crime prevention and combat operations in the last eleven months. The countrywide high-density operations have resulted in the arrest of 8 563 suspected rapists and 6 045 murder suspects, 4 410 suspects have been arrested for attempted murder.”

The Minister also gave an update on the murder investigation of Kaizer Chiefs defender, Luke Fleurs, who was killed during a hijacking at a petrol station on Gauteng’s West Rand on Wednesday evening.

“The police investigators have found the footage which is believed will lead the police and investigators to a good outcome. Police are looking at that and I think they have seen enough that in the very distant future, something will happen. There has been a focus on it so that the matter is resolved.”

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