‘Politics behind week-long mass arrests’

2013-12-04 00:00

A WEEK-LONG blitz operation by the SAPS that ended on Sunday and netted over 1 100 suspects, many of them facing serious charges including rape and murder, is largely politically driven.

University of KwaZulu-Natal head of criminology Professor Robert Peacock said these types of exercises where the police round up suspects across the province become more prevalent closer to an election.

“In order to effectively fight crime there needs to be the political will, however, trends show that before an election arrests and exercises of this nature increase and then tend to fade off to the latter part of the year,” said Peacock.

Peacock said there is concern about the “harvest” of suspects arrested, adding that research has shown that largescale arrests of this nature “don’t necessarily bring down crime levels”.

“In order for the mass arrests to be successful it requires good police work; often poor police work in this country means suspects are released. The capacity of the criminal justice system must be strengthened and there needs to be a certainty of punishment rather than severity of punishment, followed by a sound rehabilitation programme,” said Peacock.

The police seized a total of 55 firearms, including rifles, pistols, shotguns and homemade firearms, all of which have been sent for ballistic tests.

Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said the mass arrests were “just a taste of what we can expect over the festive season” and committed to an increase in operations throughout the province.

“We will limit the opportunity for criminals to commit crime or flee after they have committed a crime.”

• Zwane said 159 suspects were arrested for possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, murder, hijacking, illegal immigrants, possession of drugs, possession of dangerous weapon, theft and housebreaking in Pietermaritzburg. He said the guns that were recovered, including the home-made weapons, will be sent for ballistic tests to determine if they were used in any other crimes in the country.

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