Police arrested 15 suspects during a sting operation at Whoonga Park on Wednesday. Picture: Se-Anne Rall
Durban - Fifteen wanted suspects and 11 foreign nationals were arrested during a sting operation at an informal settlement at the lower end of Che Guevara (Moore) Road on Wednesday.

Officials entered the settlement through holes in the wall.

The suspects were identified using the Max ID machine, which reads a person’s fingerprints and can tell police if that person is wanted for a crime.

The operation was conducted by metro police, Durban Central SAPS, eThekwini Municipality, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and other law enforcement officials, which form part of a new specialised unit that will monitor the issue as well as conduct regular similar operations.

The unit head, metro police Senior Superintendent Anand Maharajh, said there were vagrants who came from other parts of Durban but were unable to get money to go home. He said they would be dropped off where they lived.

Groups of vagrants could be seen running along the railway lines in a bid to get away from police. However, police managed to nab more than 30 people.

A fire broke out, allegedly while vagrants were fleeing. Plumes of black smoke could be seen billowing in the area. The eThekwini Fire Department prevented the fire from spreading further.

The operation came a week after residents living in the lower Glenwood and Umbilo suburbs complained of an increase in robberies.

Last week, the Daily News published an article in which residents complained that they were fed up with the vagrants living at the railway lines.

Tony Blaunfeldt, of the Umbilo Community Police Forum, said in the past six months there had been a spike in house robberies, muggings and theft out of vehicles.

“The increase in crime has been blamed on a large group of homeless people living along the railway lines. Residents in Umbilo and lower Glenwood have complained about fence-hoppers and items being stolen from their homes.

“It is believed that homeless men, often seen roaming the suburbs during the day, come from the informal settlement,” he said.

Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, a metro police spokesperson, said such operations would continue in and around the city.

Fawzia Peer, eThekwini deputy mayor, said the operation was planned after a meeting with the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) last week.

“Vagrants were removed from the railway area and ran into the city. We had a meeting with them to work together to find a better solution,” she said.

Daily News