Johannesburg - Forty two new high performance vehicles will help ensure better policing in Gauteng.
Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile handed over the vehicles to the provincial rapid response team on Thursday, which will help police reach crime scenes within 30 minutes and also help combat the so-called Trio Crimes - armed robberies of residences, businesses and vehicles.
Speaking during the handing over event, Mr Mashatile said: "These vehicles will ensure that police response teams are at the scene not longer than 30 minutes after they are called in, or when responding to incidents detected by the surveillance cameras, among others."
He said in the past setting response targets had been problematic.
"In solid partnership with our partners from the financial sector, we have made significant investment in our ICT infrastructure to ensure that our surveillance system is ever-present in the hot spots."
In addition, the response team will work closely with the air wing of the South African Police Services. Two helicopters are on standby in Johannesburg and Pretoria on a 24-hour basis for this purpose.
The province will further officially open a mobile police station in Braamfischer and in Zandspruit to fill the vacuum created by the inaccessibility of traditional police stations.
"Today we will be launching a mobile unit for the community of Diepsloot whose closest police station is Erasmia which is about 16 km away. The distance makes it difficult for residents to report crime as expeditiously as is required for a rapid response.
"Mobile units such as the one we are launching in Diepsloot will soon be replicated in other parts of the province to efficiently combat crime and improve the quality of policing," said Mr Mashatile.
The provincial government on Thursday also officially introduced the Anti-Truck Hijacking Unit which will help curb truck hijacking on the province's roads. The province has invested in 20 high powered vehicles and specially trained personnel for this unit.
According to the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Firoz Cachalia, this unit will be deployed on all provincial and national roads "because the hijacking of trucks on our provincial roads contributes to the escalation in business robberies".
The MEC announced that the team had already made some inroads in arresting a number of suspects.
"Last month alone, they arrested 22 suspects that led to the recovery of four trucks," he said.
The province hopes to increase the number of patrollers across the province from 3000 to 10000 by March 2009.
All these initiatives from part of the Gauteng Aggravated Robbery Strategy aimed at combating armed robberies of residences, businesses and vehicles.
Launched in July 2008, the strategy focuses on identifying, tracing, arresting and effectively prosecuting as many perpetrators as possible while closing the space for criminals to operate in the province.
In the past five months alone, the provincial government invested in excess of R7 million for this project which has seen more than 2000 arrested for Trio Crimes.