The city’s top crime-busting unit, the Combined Action Team (CAT), was reinstated on Tuesday and is officially back in action.
CAT will now fall under the Pietermaritzburg K9 unit and will service both the uMgungundlovu north and south police clusters.
The unit is under the control of commander of the dog unit, Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Oberholzer.
Oberholzer told The Witness that the SAPS in partnership with local private security companies will be working together to fight serious crimes such as hijackings, house and business robberies.
“The security companies have all the resources to do patrols, they will be our eyes and ears on the ground,” said Oberholzer.
A number of concerned local residents had created and signed a petition requesting that the crime-fighting unit should be brought back after it was disbanded. Some residents commented on the petition, saying they feared that crime would increase without the CAT unit.
The unit was disbanded this month — the second time this has happened since it was formed.
Former Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson Jay Jugwanth said the unit had made over 400 arrests and recovered close to R8 million worth of valuable stolen property, including motor vehicles.
Jugwanth said that a large number of licensed and unlicensed guns that had been used to commit crimes were recovered by CAT.
On Tuesday Oberholzer said the unit was ready to work and he promised the city’s residents the unit would hit the ground running. “The members will be quick to respond and will prevent and pre-empt violent crimes by working hand in hand with the organised crime unit,” said Oberholzer.
He said all the members of the unit were willing to do the job and had volunteered to be part of the team.
“Every member who is here, is here because they want to be here.
“We have dedicated and selfless members who are willing to work longer hours and at awkward times to fight crime and keep the unit functioning,” said Oberholzer.
Oberholzer said the majority of the CAT unit is made up of dog handlers who routinely attend armed robberies. The unit includes two drug dog handlers, two explosive dog handlers and patrol dog handlers.
Shameel Ally of Ilanga Security, who works with CAT, warned criminals to think twice about committing any crime in Pietermaritzburg.
Ally said their focus would be the reduction of serious and violent crime.
“We will combine our resources, equipment, manpower and intelligence with the SAPS to combat crime. We are passionate and committed to what we do and we thank communities who work with us to fight crime,” said Ally.
Jugwanth wished the unit well and promised that he as well as other community prevention structures together with community members would support the unit.