Welkom police intervention results in hundreds of arrests

Police intervention in the Free State Goldfields is yielding results, with 669 arrests for various crimes made in the Welkom area in the last three months.

Provincial Police Commissioner, Moeketsi Sempe, says the operation was a reaction to the alarming crime in the area which resulted in the Thabong township just outside Welkom being the murder capital of the province over the 2018/19 period. So much of this has been attributed to illegal mining in the area. Sempe elaborates on the arrests.

He says they have managed to arrest people for the possession of unlicensed firearms, illegal possession of gold-bearing material, assault, and murder, amongst many others.

The national crime figures revealed the Free State has the highest number of murders caused by illegal mining in the country. Illegal mining was identified as the causative factor in 48 murders. Sempe says they have managed to decrease the murder rate in Thabong as a result of this operation. Over the 2018/19 financial year the Free State managed to decrease its murder rate by 5,1% despite a 3,2% increase in overall crime reported.

Sempe told media in early October that the Free State has less crime than it did ten years ago, despite a growing population, and contrary to assertions indicating otherwise. He says the province’s police have managed to reduce 17 community-related crime figures by 21% from 2009/10 to 2018/19, despite a growing population. This revelation was met with much scepticism from the public.