By Caryn Dolley
By making breakthroughs in cases of murder, cash-in-transit heists and drug deals, the organised crime unit has arrested more than 326 suspects in two years - and those convicted have been sentenced to a total of nearly 900 years behind bars.
In March two years ago the organised crime unit was revamped and more police officers were brought in to focus on different areas.
Currently the unit comprises 90 members.
On Thursday, during the police's weekly press briefing, Piet Viljoen, the unit's acting commander, said it had made a number of breakthroughs in various crimes in its two-year-and-four-month history.
The unit had investigated 63 murders, which had led to 86 arrests. Of the people convicted, 12 had received life sentences and terms totalling 607 years had been dished out.
Viljoen said 83 cases involving cash-in-transit heists, "the most difficult cases you can ever investigate", had been probed and 81 suspects held. He said 25 suspects were still in custody.
With regard to poaching, Viljoen said 36 tons of perlemoen, worth R90-million, had been confiscated and 18 suspects arrested. Those convicted had been sentenced to a total of 58 years behind bars.
In drug-related crimes involving "high-flyers", 74 cases had been investigated and 141 arrests made. Prison sentences totalling 58 years had been handed out to those convicted.
Quantities of drugs including 160 000 Mandrax tablets, 15 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine (tik) and 90kg of cocaine, totalling R21-million, had also been confiscated.
"Our members working at the airport have had a lot of success. They're getting the couriers who are bringing in (the drugs)."
Viljoen said the unit also had a group of anti-corruption investigators who also probed and sometimes arrested their colleagues.
He said when "high-flyers" were investigated they often tried to implicate police officers in crimes to divert attention from themselves.
When a suspect did try to implicate a police member and this was investigated, the allegations often turned out to be false, Viljoen said.
Although some people had already been convicted, a number of cases were still being dealt with in court and it took years for them to be concluded.
Viljoen said that aside from focusing on specific investigations, "whenever and wherever" other police stations needed assistance, members of the unit stepped in to help.
"We have a very dedicated team. You can go to the offices at 2am or on the weekend and you'll find members there.
"These guys really do work hard."