City crackdown on crime

2016-02-01 13:44
Police examine a bullet-ridden car used by armed robbers after a fatal shootout on the R33 near Greytown.

Police examine a bullet-ridden car used by armed robbers after a fatal shootout on the R33 near Greytown. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A crack team of Pietermaritzburg ­detectives and officers has embarked on a mission to clean the city’s streets of ­criminals.

In nine days, between January 18 and 26, the team of detectives and visible ­policing unit members netted 101 alleged lawbreakers in an all-inclusive crime swoop nicknamed “Operation ­Porcupine”.

The operation — spearheaded by uMgungundlovu South cluster commander Major General Lucas Ngobeni — targeted an entire range of perpetrators, from those caught drinking in public to those wanted for rape and attempted murder.

Focusing specifically on Ngobeni’s ­cluster, the visual policing officers combed the streets, pulling out people mainly for the possession of drugs.

While blue lights dashed through the CBD and other suburban crime hotspots, the detective element of the operation worked to track wanted high-priority criminals responsible for ­attempted murder, rape and robbery.

The detectives focused on ­Pietermaritzburg’s outlying suburbs which were hardest hit by violent attacks and robberies.

According to the arrest statistics, 22 men were arrested in the Plessislaer, ­Richmond and Taylor’s Halt policing areas for serious and violent crimes.

The men were arrested for charges ­including assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (12), rape (3), ­attempted murder (1), stock theft (2), malicious damage to property (2), robbery (1) and thefts out of motor vehicles (1).

Back in the city, the visual policing unit targeted crime hotspots in the CBD, ­Alexandra and Plessislaer precincts, ­netting about 80 alleged criminals.

Six people were arrested for the ­possession of dangerous weapons like knives, two for drinking in public, and four for traffic offences.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said although many of the arrests were for general misdemeanours, these crimes deserved to be prioritised as they had the potential to escalate to violence and innocent lives being lost.

Two arrests were made for the ­possession of stolen property, and 10 for housebreaking, theft and robbery.

However, most of the arrests were made for the possession of drugs, 53 in total. Ngobese said this shed light on the city’s ever increasing drug abuse rates, which the police were “trying their hardest” to ­combat.

“Drugs are being used abundantly and are a gateway to other crimes. It is one of the main problems the police have, but we are making continuous efforts to ­alleviate the problem,” Ngobese said.

Of the 53 drug arrests, 44 were made in the CBD. Most users were in possession of dagga, Mandrax, heroin and Whoonga.

Ngobese said the continuing operation had thus far been a success.

“The cluster commander [Ngobeni] would like to congratulate all members ­involved in the operation for a job well done. We urge the community to report all crimes and suspicious activity so we can keep up the good work as 2016 ­progresses,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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