Pietermaritzburg is safe, say police

2015-09-09 06:00

PIETERMARITZBURG SAPS have come out fighting in an attempt to reassure the public that the city is safe, as officers are making arrests in numbers.

The city’s cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni addressed the issue after recent reports highlighted a spate of 60 contact crimes - murder, assaults with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and sexual and common assaults were reported in the CBD in August alone.

Ngobeni said the police have systems in place to combat these attacks, and while 60 cases may seem high, it is a sharp decrease from figures for similar crimes in the same period last year. According to the Pietermaritzburg cluster’s statistics, 1 027 arrests were made in August.

Ngobeni said while it is difficult to monitor and prevent common assaults, which mainly consist of domestic disputes behind closed doors and make up the majority of cases reported last month, the police are being trained to handle such incidents.

After a Witness article - which described six murders, one attempted murder, 21 assaults involving grievous bodily harm, 29 common assaults, and three sexual assaults in the CBD - government officials criticised the police, outlining their concerns for the city.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said while the statistics released in the report high numbers of assaults, the Pietermaritzburg police station has managed to keep serious crimes like murder and rape to a minimum.

Ngobese and Ngobeni highlighted the procedures in place to combat crime in the city, as well as the police’s successes throughout the entire Pietermaritzburg cluster of 13 stations during August.

Ngobeni said he has tasked a special team to deal with social crime prevention, which keeps open communication lines with community structures like Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and sector policing structures in an attempt to thwart criminal activities in their specific areas.

The police are also working closely with Safe City, the organisation responsible for the CCTV monitoring of the city, and have provided officers who respond only to incidents picked up on the 70 cameras throughout the CBD.

Ngobese revealed this working relationship had resulted in 60 arrests for 45 separate crimes in August alone.

Ngobeni said special task teams like the Combined Action Team (CAT), a team to take down illegal Bandamp;Bs and brothels in the city, and one to deal specifically with traffic offences have been mobilised and are making arrests every day.

To curb domestic violence and lower the rate of common assaults, Ngobeni said all officers in the Pietermaritzburg cluster are undergoing retraining in the form of a “refresher course” in domestic violence.

“Even though the audited statistics have not been released, we can indicate that the Pietermaritzburg station is mostly in the ‘green’ for August, indicating a drop in incidents,” Ngobese said

Operation Fiyela, which has been active throughout the country, shows that police from Pietermaritzburg’s 13 stations have made 1 027 arrests in August.

In terms of serious and violent crimes, 29 suspects were arrested for murder, 11 for rape, five for sexual assault, 57 for assault GBH and 21 for common assault.

Police conducted 26 cordon-and-search operations, and 20 roadblocks, which saw officers searching 1 599 people.

This, coupled with 58 raids on known suspects, resulted in 175 recoveries of counterfeit goods, 48 dangerous weapon confiscations and drugs taken off the streets. Some of the drugs seized were marijuana (60 139kg), 3 266 marijuana plants, 139 grams of cocaine and 91 grams of heroin

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