Police issued a stern warning to gangs that are terrorising the peaceful community of the Free State, warning that gangster-related activities will not be tolerated.
In an ongoing fight against crime and in line with the acting National Commissioner`s Back to Basic approach, provinces will embark on crime prevention operations aimed to curbing crime during the festive season.
According to a police statement, these operations termed “Operation Back to Basics” for the festive season, commenced on 15 October 2016 and will end on 31 January 2017.
“It is an unfortunate reality that, during this time when most people are relaxing and celebrating the end of the working year, criminals also seize the opportunity to rob the community of their hard earned property,” said Lieutenant General Lebeaona Tsumane who took up his post as the new Provincial Commissioner of the Free State on Monday.
Police have warned that criminals are opportunistic and they know that during the festive season there are more cash in circulation due to the increased spending patterns of consumers over the festive season.
Spokesperson Thandi Mbambo indicated that as early as October, there appear to be an increase in armed robberies in shopping centers and stores as well as more frequent attempts at cash-in-transit heists. “With people going on holiday the criminals also see this as opportunities for burglaries. These are the main crimes that the Police will focus on.”
She explained that these are not the only type of crime that the police will focus on and with a well-planned operational plan that is divided into 5 phases, criminals can be sure that they will be met by the full might of the law.
“Together with other law enforcement agencies we already engaged in various operations so as to ensure that the people of the Free State are and feel safe. As a results the total number of 1206 arrests were affected in the province since the start of the Operation Back to Basics Festive Season which include, among others, arrests for murder, attempted murder, rape, sexual assault, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, robbery, business robbery, arson, malicious damage to property, armed robbery, burglaries, theft of vehicles, dealing in drugs, stock theft, drunken driving, fraud etc,“ she said.
Mbambo added that large quantities of dagga, mandrax, CAT, cocaine and tik were also confiscated. Stolen vehicles were recovered and firearms and ammunition, dangerous weapons and counterfeit money were confiscated.
Communities are requested to work together with the police during the festive season by ensuring that they practise safety first, drinking responsibly, looking after their children and most importantly, reporting criminal activities to the police.
“I also wish to thank all the police officers in advance for their dedication and hard work as this is a time that they will put in long hours whilst others are enjoying the holidays with their families. Their safety is my priority and I need them to make sure that they use safe tactical operational methods whilst dealing with criminals during this time,” said Tsumane.
Statement Issued by the SAPS Provincial Communication, Marketing and Liaison