Joburg police attacks: 'People who attack police must face harsh punishment'

Police conducted raids in the Joburg CBD after they were attacked last week.
Police conducted raids in the Joburg CBD after they were attacked last week.
Sifiso Jimta, Son

Attacks on the police are an attack on the South African state and its sovereignty, the Cabinet said.

On Thursday, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu briefed the media about the previous day's Cabinet meeting, where it condemned the recent attacks on police officers in Johannesburg "in the strongest possible terms".

The Cabinet also instructed the police and other law enforcement agencies to pursue the suspects without any fear or favour.

"The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 directs that law enforcement agencies, inclusive of our police service, must prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure its inhabitants and their respective properties as well as uphold and enforce the law," Mthembu said.

"Any attack on our law enforcement officers is an attack on our state and its sovereignty. Such attacks should not go unpunished. We call on all communities to support our government agencies, particularly those enforcing our laws and also unite against this banditry actions that seek to attack police officers."

He said the Cabinet had called on law enforcement agencies to continue to enforce the law and act decisively against those who violated the laws of our country.

"Municipal by-laws must at all times be adhered to and we call on all our municipalities to enforce our municipal by-laws. We remain a law-abiding country that will continue to ensure peace, stability and prosperity for its citizens."

Mthembu added the Cabinet expected all who live or work in South Africa to collaborate with law enforcement agencies to combat criminal and illegal activities.

"The Cabinet reassures the nation that the country's law enforcement agencies will act decisively and arrest people who perpetrate lawlessness and violence.

"People who attack the police must receive the harshest possible punishment."

Asked about reports that police officers were arrested after they tried to sell the items confiscated during Wednesday's raids, Mthembu said: "If there are police who are corrupt, they must also have the harshest punishment.

"My view is, the law must take its course."

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, welcomed Wednesday's operation in Johannesburg.

"The raids are a clear indication of the rule of law and such operations must be planned and executed regularly to defeat the counterfeit industry across the country. Where there is illegality happening, the police must move in to eradicate such acts," Joemat-Pettersson said in a statement.

She added the committee applauded the minister of police, Gauteng provincial government and the leadership of the Johannesburg metropolitan police for their swift and collaborative efforts to remove counterfeit goods from our streets.   

The committee also called for the appropriate processing of the counterfeit goods and ultimate destruction.

"It will be undesirable and unfortunate if the goods are to find their way back into the counterfeit market again. To achieve this, South African Police Service management must ensure a corruption free service with police officers that are not corruptible," Joemat-Pettersson said.

The committee said import processes needed to be strengthened, especially at ports of entry, which would reduce the need to have these raids.

Central to achieving this lies in the effectiveness of the country's intelligence agencies and collaboration with other agencies across the world.

The committee welcomed the confiscation of an arms cache during the raids.

"The cache, which included an AK47 and other assault rifles, is a clear indication of the criminality associated with the counterfeit industry. The committee continues to call for the removal of illegal firearms from our streets, as they are tools that bring terror to our communities," Joemat-Pettersson said.  

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on home affairs, Bongani Bongo, welcomed the arrest of illegal immigrants during the raid in Johannesburg's CBD. 

"It must remain clear that while legal and developmental immigration is encouraged and can be beneficial to the growth prospects of the country, we remain steadfast that illegal immigration must be discouraged at all times," Bongo said.

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