Police vow to dampen criminals' holiday spirit

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Johannesburg - Police have promised to put the joy back into this festive season, warning that opportunistic criminals hoping to make merry during the holidays will have no place to hide.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa warned criminals that police officers would be at every corner and would tackle them head-on.

Speaking at the launch of the festive season crime fight campaign - Operation Duty Calls - on Thursday, the minister said police would conduct a number of "high density operations" while still maintaining visibility at the hotspots in the coming weeks.

The high density operations are expected to focus on house and business robberies, cash-in-transit heists, hijackings and ATM attacks.

Mthethwa said police would also intensify social crime prevention operations to address crimes such as assault, murder, rape and crimes against women and children.

"Police will be physically present to deal with any criminal with evil motives. We will also increase high visibility patrols at all tourist destinations, especially those along the coastal cities," he added.

The festive season crime fighting plan was not just about words but tangible actions, the minister stressed.

The National Joint Operational Centre, which was the nucleus of success during the World Cup, had already been activated to help eliminate crime during the upcoming holidays.

Police will be supported by other government departments such as Home Affairs, South African Revenue Services and Transport in its festive season operations.

"Law-breaking fanatics should take this as a friendly warning because when we find you on the wrong side, we will not be friendly. We are in full swing and will remain hard on any wrongdoing, irrespective of who is involved," he cautioned.

National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele echoed the minister's warning to criminals.
"You will find us on the beaches, mountains, hills and valleys. You'll find us everywhere," Cele warned criminals.

South Africans had the right to experience goodwill and peace of during the festive season and anyone who violated that right would be severely dealt with, he added.

Cele urged police officers to protect the lives of South African citizens and all costs, warning them not to get caught up in criminal activities themselves.

To prove just how serious they are about the making the festive season safe, police kicked off Operation Duty Calls by taking to the streets of Johannesburg in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Accompanied by Mthethwa, Cele and Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu, police raided buildings and arrested about 40 people for a variety of crimes.

Mthethwa said this was just the start of police's attack on crime.