South Africa: Western Cape Crime Levels ‘A Concern’, Says Cele

Police Minister Bheki Cele has decried the harrowing levels of crime plaguing the Western Cape.

The Minister expressed his concerns during a media briefing on Thursday.

Despite the province having recorded the lowest murder percentage increase in the crime statistics released in August, extreme violence and brutality “stalks the province”, he said.

The Western Cape recorded an increase in contact crimes cases, between April and June 2022.

He said: “So it is clear that there are glimmers of hope in this province and equally pockets of concern that are receiving immediate intervention”.

In the past week, 83 people were killed Western Cape between 5 and 11 September.

Cele said the majority of the murders took place in and around the Cape Town Metropole and Cape flats.

Arguments, robberies and gang violence remain the top causative factors for these deaths.

“As the Police Ministry we are encouraged that the South African Police Service [SAPS] in the Western Cape under the leadership of Lt General [Thembisile] Patekile, continues to respond to crimes and make arrests and recover stolen goods,” he said.

From the 1 April to 11 September 2022, courts in the region handed down 21 life sentences to perpetrators of murder and rape.

During this period, the 118 people were convicted for serious crimes. Among these were 27 people convicted of murder, 84 for rape, two for attempted rape and another two for robbery with aggravating circumstances.

“The remainder were convicted on charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and assault GBH [grievous bodily harm]. These individuals are collectively serving 1 401 years’ imprisonment,” he said.

Firearms

In a majority of murder cases, Cele said firearms were three times likely the weapon of choice in all reported murders in the country.

As per the last released national crime statistics, the Western Cape has the third highest gun related murders.

“The removal of 33 firearms and 538 rounds of ammunition in a week, from the streets of the Cape flats by the police is welcomed. This includes three homemade firearms, 29 revolvers/ pistol and one rifle. We are clear that removing these guns from communities, goes a long way in saving lives.”

Keeping in line with the SAPS’s mandate of protecting and securing the inhabitants of this province and their property, police in the province have Vhutu Hawe operations.

“The Anti-Economical Task Teams are in place and focusing on tracking and tracing undocumented foreigners [and] non-ferrous metals. This is over and above the Anti Gang Unit (AGU) members and additional 200 SAPS officers deployed from other provinces, saturating the identified high crime hot-spots,” he said.

The Minister said cumulative deployment of thousands of officers of the SAPS, supported by other forces from the city, metro and province each week conduct crime combating and prevention operations.

He said such operations include community awareness operations, roadblocks, vehicle control points, stop and searches, tracing wanted suspects as well as foot patrols.

Maximum deployment of officers is seen on weekends and is guided by threat analysis and crime prevention patterns, he said.

The SAPS’s Operation Restore – which consists of integrated operations to the Top 10 police stations – also continues to obstruct extortion rackets and related crimes.

Khayelitsha and Gugulethu shootings

A total of 16 people were arrested for their alleged roles in the multiple shootings in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu that claimed 58 lives.

Cele said this includes three suspects arrested in July for the multiple murder case of eight people shot and killed in Gugulethu during a traditional cleansing ceremony in June 2021.

Police investigations have resulted in three suspects from Phillipi East and Gugulethu namely, Thabo Dyasi, Sivuyile Matoti and Lundi Zweni, answering to the courts. They remain in custody.

Kidnapping

The Western Cape police are investigating 32 cases of kidnapping since 1 March to September 2022.

“It remains encouraging that the SAPS in the province continue to make inroads regarding kidnapping cases. A total of 15 kidnapping suspects have been arrested,” he said.

This includes the court appearance of five suspects who appeared at the Wynberg Magistrates Court on Monday, 12 September 2022.

The five-member gang appeared on charges of conspiracy to commit a kidnapping and other charges related to the failed kidnapping of a businesswoman.

Trucks and cars

Police in the Western Cape, he said, had pounced on carjacking syndicates responsible for the theft of vehicles worth millions of rand which have been recovered.

Police operations have also resulted in the recovery of 16 trucks that were also highjacked in the past five months. These trucks seized by the police are believed to be worth over R40 million.

Drugs

Cele said local police continue to remove illicit goods such as alcohol and illegal drugs off the streets of the Western Cape.

“Police have intercepted and seized crystal meth, cocaine and heroin including R33 million rand worth of mandrax in recent months,” he said.

In this regard, the Hawks had intercepted over R400 million worth of cocaine en route to Cape Town from Gauteng. Four people have been arrested and are before the courts.

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