FS MEC declares war against criminals

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CATHY DLODLO

Criminals in the Free State should be warned that the MEC of police, roads and transport, Butana Komphela, has declared war against them.

He delivered a strong anti-crime message during his budget speech in the Free State legislature last Wednesday. But this warning did not spare the men and women in blue. Komphela praised the police for operations that had led to the arrest of many, including farm attackers, drug lords and brothel owners, but also warned police officers who get involved in criminal activities.
 
He said during operations that addressed illegal mining in the Welkom area, 26 police officers were arrested. Another 12 were under investigation during the 2014/2015 financial year for submitting fraudulent claims. Komphela said during a project at the Caledonspoort border post, nine police officers, six officials from the department of home affairs and one from the department of health, had been arrested. But, said Komphela, he is especially targeting drug lords and drug peddlers in the Free State. He said the age of drug addicts shows they are getting younger and more vulnerable. "I was shocked to discover a 17-year-old child at one of the places we raided during a operation," said Komphela.

The MEC says human trafficking should not only be seen as people who are being smuggled across borders, young kids are also being held hostage by kingpins in the drug trade in Bloemfontein.

According to Komphela, Heidedal is one of the largest drug nests in the city. He told Courant that the police are conducting several operations to try and give a proper blow to the drug industry in the city. "Compared to other neighbourhoods, Heidedal has a tremendous drug problem."

Komphela also warned cross-border criminals to take heed. He said he would no longer tolerate Lesotho citizens entering his province to commit crimes. Often these people, many of them Nigerians, see the Free State as a mecca for their criminal activities. He said in an interview with Courant, despite good relations between their country of origin and South Africa, his sights are set on criminals smuggling drugs and illegal weapons into the Free State.

"The Lesotho citizens are proliferating weapons here. If that means that we don’t have a relationship with Lesotho – so be it, it’s good. I don’t care. They think because they gave us exile it gives them the right to bring weapons into South Africa. These gangs that are killing each other in the mines are not South Africans. If they have never seen us clamping down on them, they’d better watch this space," he concluded.

cathy@centralmediagroup.co.za