Crime blitz in city centre

2018-05-08 16:00
Police tally counterfeit goods following a raid on Pietermaritz Street on Monday.

Police tally counterfeit goods following a raid on Pietermaritz Street on Monday. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

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The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Community Safety has declared war on crime in the Pietermaritzburg CBD, with the first phase of a clean-up project yielding 25 arrests.

From just one Ethiopian woman, police seized R160 000 in cash, which was wrapped in a towel, and a further R20 000 that was allegedly used to bribe cops.

She was found with more than 1 300 unregistered SIM cards and several cartons of illicit cigarettes during the large-scale police raid on Pietermaritz Street on Monday afternoon.

Twenty-five undocumented foreign nationals — including one child — were arrested as members of the SAPS, immigration officers and traffic police conducted an operation that lasted several hours.

The Ethiopian woman will be charged with fraud and corruption for allegedly trying to bribe police.

Members of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) were also present.

Officers were deployed from several units across the province.

Police recovered R300 000 in counterfeit goods, including blankets, clothing, handbags and illicit cigarettes. A laptop bag containing R40 000 was confiscated from a man who was in possession of counterfeit alcohol.

They recovered two laundry bins stacked with boxes of counterfeit SIM cards.

Foreign nationals unable to produce immigration papers were loaded into police vans.

Officers were involved in a small few scuffles with unco-operative suspects, but firearms were not discharged during the raid.

Traffic police closed the road between West and Pine streets as more than 100 heavily armed police officers combed the area, raiding properties and seizing counterfeit goods.

A police helicopter circled the area during the operation.

Onlookers lined the side of the road and adjacent alleyways watching police tally up recovered goods and detain undocumented foreign nationals.

Screams of anguish could be heard from inside police detainee vans.

Community Safety said this was phase one of an ongoing project to clear the Pietermaritzburg CBD of drugs and criminality.

Kwanele Ncalane, a spokesperson for the department, said the area was notorious for nefarious activities.

“This was part of our actions to beef up policing. That area is known for being a hive of drugs and other illegalities. We want to declare war on all these buildings in the CBD that are allegedly being used for illegal activities.”

He said stamping out the drug trade was at the centre of the plans.

“We want to clamp down on counterfeit goods, illegal immigrants, illegal firearms.

“From now on, Pietermaritzburg is being seen as a pilot area for our operations in closing-in on crime on the streets. This will be done on an ongoing basis.”

The raids come as MEC for Community Safety Mxolisi Kaunda prepares to debate the department’s budget at the KZN Legislature on Tuesday.

Police officers on scene described that area of Pietermaritz Street as a problem spot over recent years.

“We see lots of drug trade here. But these guys are sharp.

“Even if you look at our operation here, we did not seize drugs but we’ve seen the money that it brings. We will still have to go on looking, but this is a positive step.”

Last month, Msunduzi led a similar raid along the nearby West Street, during which illegal housing structures were demolished.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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