The Joburg metro police have launched an operation to remove beggars, hawkers and window washers from the streets of the city because they contribute to crime.
“The operation is a combination of the use of intelligence enforcement and deployment of a fleet of marked and unmarked police cars in hotspots in and around the city’s highways, byways, intersections and streets,” member of the mayoral committee for public safety Sello Lemao said during the launch of Operation Ke Molao (It’s the Law) yesterday.
“We cannot continue to have a situation where motorists are attacked for valuables while waiting for traffic signals, getting onto on-ramps, and even on freeways during traffic jams.”
Lemao said there has been a spike in criminal activity around certain main intersections in Joburg, which included smash-and-grabs, hijackings, robberies and assaults. These were largely done by window washers, beggars and hawkers.
“These intersections have become lucrative markets because motorists buy goods or donate money to window washers and other beggars. This then draws them to the intersections in violation of our laws,” said Lemao.
COPS AT HOTSPOTS
To protect motorists, numerous metro officers had been deployed to 10 intersections identified as hotspots.
“The operation has been ongoing for a number of years but we have intensified our forces,” said Lemao.
The metro police will be assisted by, among others, the SAPS, officials from the City of Joburg, the Gauteng Traffic Department and private security companies.
The Department of Social Development would also work with police in dealing with vagrants after removing them from the streets.
The SA Informal Traders Forum condemned the removal of beggars and hawkers from the streets.
“We will take any action possible to prevent the removals,” said the forum’s Sam Khasibe.