Cape Town – Police Minister Bheki Cele and his deputy returned to the crime-ridden Cape Flats, for operational briefing, since the commencement of Operation Lockdown.
Cele and Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale engaged communities to get feedback from members of the public on the interventions through a Ministerial Imbizo hosted in Mitchells’s Plain and Gugulethu, on Tuesday.
Cele said they received a consolidated report of the operational interventions in the Western Cape to date, ranging from Operation Thunder which was launched in May last year, the Anti-Gang Unit launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November last year and ultimately Operation Lockdown which came into operation in July and extended to March 2020.
He said following operational discussions and analysis, "a decision to merge the three major interventions under one central operational command was implemented in order to stamp the authority of the state in Western Cape and to ultimately address the scourge of gangsterism and other priority crimes in the province".
He said the interventions in tackling contact crimes have shown a positive impact.
"This is demonstrated in the stabilisation of the murder rate which is now averaging in the 30s mark," Cele said, with over five thousand people having been arrested for various crimes.
He said there were still other policing precincts where trio crimes and robbery aggravated crimes were still on the increase, especially street robberies and car hijackings.
He tabled some of the successes to date:
- Operations recorded 5 969 arrests and
- Total numbers of seizures included – 100 firearms, 196 ammunitions and 565 knives
Cele has also commended the drastic decline in the murder rate in the province.
Operation Lockdown was established three months ago to curb serious violent crimes plaguing the Cape Flats and other townships in the Cape Metropole. The operation has seen members of the army lending support to the police.
Cele said it goes without saying that government has invested a lot of resources in the Western Cape from 2018 to date.
"This was primarily informed by the crime statistics reporting pattern which revealed that more than 50% of the top 30 Stations are located in the Cape metropole, with a specific focus on contact and trio crimes," he said.
He believed it’s through planning, much-needed intelligence and mutually beneficial partnerships that the interventions would achieve their intended successes.
However, he said Operation Lockdown remained temporary support to police and the operational planning was in preparation for the inevitable withdrawal of the additional forces.
Mathale said with the passage of time the operations were not generating much attention.
"However all role players such as the various police units, metro police, traffic services, SANDF and in some instances scores of neighbourhood watch members and volunteers, have been descending week after week on a number of targeted precincts in an effort to create safety for all," Mathale said.
"Raids, operations, cordon and searches, vehicle checkpoints, roadblocks as well as search and seizures have been a common occurrence, particularly on weekends when most criminal acts occur."
He said the operations were set to continue in a bid to restore calm to communities plagued by serious violent crimes in Cape Town.
Chairperson of the Community Policing Forum in Mitchells Plain, Abie Isaacs said indeed operation lockdown has yielded positive results in their area.
"We support the deployment. There is still more to be done," Isaacs said.