Police declare war on gangs and syndicates
Police have launched an all-out offensive on gangs and syndicates in Nelson Mandela Bay, deploying a specialist tactical intervention unit in an attempt to curb crime in hotspot areas.
The heavily armed team, which comprises the National Intervention Unit (NIU), Tactical Response Team and Public Order Policing Unit, was launched on Saturday as part of a provincial intervention programme.
The NIU, which is based in Mthatha, is considered one of the most elite units in the police, specifically trained to deal with high-risk crimes and target heavily armed gangs such as cash-in-transit robbers.
This comes a month after police crime statistics showed that the Bethelsdorp and Kwazakhele policing areas were among the top 30 most dangerous in the country, while Gelvandale tops the national list in terms of attempted murders.
Kwazakhele is at No 15 on the list of hijacking hotspots in the country, followed by New Brighton at 21.
Motherwell is at No 26 on the national list of business robberies while Kwazakhele is at 13 for house robberies.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga, who is overseeing the team, said the deployment was part of a clampdown targeting dangerous criminal gangs such as armed robbers, murderers and hijackers.
On Tuesday, a police convoy patrolling the Motherwell area went looking for wanted criminals, searching people and vehicles in the area.
“We will stop and search suspect vehicles and people. This is for your safety,” she said.
“It is for you, the residents, to see that we are here and serious about tackling crime.
“This team will also be responding to priority calls for help from the public who witness crimes and will have the police helicopter on standby.
“There are identified gangs and syndicates that need to be arrested but are managing to evade capture.
“These gangsters and robbers are now being hunted to make the streets a safer place.”
Ntshinga said a specialist tracing team of veteran detectives – whose sole job is to track down dangerous wanted criminals – had been sent to assist with the operation.
“Part of this will include raids on shops and homes that are believed to be hiding stolen firearms and wanted suspects.
“The more illegal firearms off the streets, the [fewer] murders and robberies,” she said.
The deployment comes shortly before the festive season, during which there is traditionally a spike in armed robberies at businesses and shopping malls.
Ntshinga said the team, together with Bay detectives, was following up leads on suspects linked to “hit” murders, hijackings, robberies and other serious crimes.
On Monday and Tuesday, two men were arrested for possession of stolen firearms in Zwide during the joint operations.
To date, the team has already arrested nine people.
Mount Road Cluster commander Major-General Thembisile Patekile – whose area includes the northern areas – said various crime intelligence operatives had been deployed to identify possible gangs and wanted suspects.
“In addition, the team will assist with visible policing around the Bay area,” he said.
“Their function is also to assist the provincial Organised Crime Detective Unit, which is responsible for serious and violent crime investigations.”