Hostel raid yields meagre results

2014-11-15 00:00

THE notorious KwaMashu men’s hostel was locked down when hundreds of police swooped in an early morning raid yesterday.

The blitz was the first incursion in a festive season campaign in a township section plagued by violent murders.

The impressive show of force yielded little result, however, with only five arrests and the seizure of two unlicensed firearms.

Teams of heavily armed officers forced their way into houses that had been identified by crime intelligence agents.

Officers screamed at residents to open their doors and at one building on Ntokozo Road, officers kicked in a door as a woman inside screamed.

Her boyfriend had been seen by an officer flinging a gun from a window, and was carted away in handcuffs.

The provincial police commissioner, Mmamonnye Ngobeni, said the operation had been driven by active intelligence gathering.

“The KwaMashu Men’s Hostel has been plagued by violent murders recently and a dedicated team has been investigating these incidents.

“This was an intelligence-driven operation focusing on specific targets following an intensive intelligence gathering process. Five people were arrested in total, two for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, two for illegal liquor outlets and one for possession of dagga. Two firearms as well as a large quantity of alcohol were seized,” Ngobeni added.

“This is just the start of the festive season and we are just warming up. Thugs that roam our streets will feel the heat.”

KZN violence monitor Mary De Haas said the hostel has historically been a hotbed of crime, and that the operation was a “damp squib”.

She said a properly established informer network and precision policing were needed. “I am not really surprised that they didn’t recover very much. Those hostels are so difficult to police and people can move in and out quite easily,” she said.

She said that a porous police force had always hamstrung operations to seize guns. “Those guns get moved away very quickly when they hear the police are coming, and with the size of the task force that was assembled they probably knew far enough in advance that the police were coming.”

De Haas said hostels were designed purposefully by the apartheid government to lock down completely.

“They were built that way because you could isolate whole blocks and this is now counting against the police. They have been hotbeds of crime since I can remember and it is very difficult to control what goes in and out of the homes.”

She said the solution lay with a solid informer network developed by crime intelligence operatives who were on the ground. “Most of the people living there are ordinary struggling citizens and the problem is that criminals hide in their midst … you need the sort of intelligence that allows those who are fed up with the situation to out the troublemakers.”


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