Gauteng cops gear up to clamp down on festive season crime - acting police commissioner

Criminals in Gauteng have been warned to brace themselves because a "heavy storm" is headed their way this festive season.

Acting provincial police commissioner Major General Max Masha launched the provincial Safer Festive Season Operations under the theme "Quiet Storm" at Westgate Mall in the West Rand on Thursday.

The aim of the campaign is to make the crime-riddled province a safer place and to ensure that people have a peaceful festive season.

Masha said operations would target aggravated robberies; the proliferation of illegal firearms and special crime-awareness and prevention operations. It would also prioritise cases involving women, children and other vulnerable groups, and enforce by-laws and road-safety regulations.

Different focus in Gauteng

Compared to other provinces, Gauteng police will extend the scope beyond the fight against gangs and drugs, and will focus on illegal mining gangs who are fighting each other.

The province's scope will also encompass organised aggravated robberies, such as cash-in-transit (CIT) heists and ATM bombings.

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Recently, police have shut down drug laboratories and arrested people for dealing in and manufacturing drugs.

"We will, therefore, be adapting the same integrated Buya Mthetho operations in our efforts and campaigns for the duration of the festive season, which will run through until the end of January 2019.

"We will not rest until everyone living [in] or visiting Gauteng over the festive season is and feels safe and secure.

"...the very reason behind the development of Buya Mthetho, is to change the negative public perceptions about policing. This can be only achieved if members of the public feel safe in their homes, on the streets or at shopping malls," he said.

Success against cash-in-transit robbers

Masha said the police's relationship with cash-in-transit security companies and other stakeholders played a role in the arrest of robbers and the foiling of planned robberies. During the process, high-calibre firearms and stolen vehicles were recovered.

 READ: Police foil cash-in-transit robbery plan, arrest 12 suspects

"To reiterate the minister (Bheki Cele), those robbers who are still out on our streets and have in fact moved to other provinces, their days are numbered," he warned.

In an effort to reduce crimes in malls over the festive season, the province is talking to security management at malls.

"We want the public to enjoy safe banking, safe shopping, driving to and from the airport, people living their lives without having to look over their shoulders. We want the same for our tourists as well."

He warned his officers, Johannesburg Metro Police officers and provincial traffic officers to prioritise their safety and look after themselves.

"I want to urge you to treat members of the public who are coming to report crimes at our police stations with dignity and respect," he added.