Durban - More than 1 000 of KwaZulu-Natal’s most-wanted criminals have been profiled and circulated nationally, to ensure they do not go on a crime spree this festive season.

Twenty thousand police officers would be on duty, to keep criminals at bay, KZN police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said on Thursday.

Stop and searches, crime intelligence driven operations and foot patrols will be at the forefront of the province’s crime fighting operations from now until the middle of January 2013, Ngobeni revealed in an interview with the Daily News.

Shopping malls, the beachfront, Durban CBD and areas such as uMlazi and Inanda will be closely monitored.

Ngobeni warned that specialised tasks teams, detectives, the Hawks and crime intelligence would be closing in on criminals.

“These wanted criminals are sought for a range of crimes. We have already arrested several of them and I am confident this number will be reduced drastically,” she said. “The outstanding criminals have been profiled. It’s a matter of time before they are caught.”

Ngobeni said criminals who targeted police officers would not be tolerated.

“They must be warned that we will hunt them down and send them to jail. We are here to protect and serve. My members are my family,” she said.

“When one of them is killed it hurts and saddens me. The killing of police officers cannot continue. We will bring these criminals to book.”

She said a very strategic crime fighting plan had been put in place, in the lead-up to the festive season.

“In the past few months, crime intelligence has done a lot of groundwork in the province. They have identified drug abuse and armed robbery with aggravated circumstances as crimes that are expected to peak in coming weeks.”

Verulam, Phoenix, Chatsworth and other areas had been identified as drug hot spots, Ngobeni said.

“Crime intelligence has done an in-depth analysis of these crimes. It is a quick and easy way for criminals to make cash,” she said. “These criminals will not be able to see us with the naked eye. But, they must be warned – we will be keeping a close eye on them.”

Ngobeni said stock theft and faction fighting would also be receiving priority attention.

“We have found stock theft to have become an issue in recent months. It normally peaks at this time of the year. We will be engaging with traditional leaders in various rural areas to address this issue.”

Crimes against women and children are also a focus.

“We have been having successful convictions with regard to crimes against women and children. These standards will be maintained to ensure our women and children are safe this festive season.”

Ngobeni urged communities to communicate with police and tip them off about criminal activity.

“Community participation in fighting crime is [the] key,” she said. “A good partnership with communities will deter criminals. It will help keep our streets safer.”

In her third year as the province’s police head, Ngobeni said crime trends over the past two festive seasons had shown a significant decrease.

“I am confident this will be a safe time for tourists and the citizens of KZN.”

This year police management in KZN was rocked by the suspension of Hawks boss Major-General Johan Booysen and crime intelligence head Major General Dina Moodley.

But, Ngobeni said despite these challenges, policing had not suffered in KZN.

“I have had lots of support and intervention from the national office. We are committed to the fight against crime and a dedicated management team is in place to ensure our crime plan is effectively rolled in coming weeks.” - Daily News