Gauteng police arrest hundreds of suspects around Joburg
PRETORIA - Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela on Friday commended the significant successes emanating from the partnership between the SAPS in Gauteng and private stakeholders as they tackle the many vehicle crimes, such as hijacking and theft.
“I have previously said that we need to sustain the momentum of these crackdown operations at panel beaters or chop shops towards ultimately choking the market for hijackings and theft of vehicles, as this often comes with much violence against the victims,” said Mawela.
Law enforcement officers taking part in the multidisciplinary Operation O Kae Molao on Thursday uncovered the body shells of six stripped luxury vehicles at a chop shop in Bushkoppies, outside Lenasia.
The vehicles were confirmed as hijacked between August 2019 and July 2020 in different parts of Gauteng.
They also found four vehicles plus a boat and trailer reported stolen in 2015. Ten other vehicles had had their VIN numbers tampered with, and were therefore seized for investigation.
Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the Provincial Vehicle Crime Investigating Unit has opened an inquiry for further investigation as no suspects have been arrested as yet.
“At this point, preliminary investigation has found that one of the stripped luxury vehicles had been towed away from an accident scene without the owner’s knowledge or consent. Seven more cars, including a (Toyota) Quantum, were impounded at a roadblock on the N12 on suspicion of being stolen or hijacked,” she said.
“Meanwhile, still in Lenasia, a suspect was arrested after allegedly attempting to bribe police officers and brand managers who were in the process of confiscating counterfeit goods, clothing and footwear, found in his possession.
“Not far from this scene, another team working with SARS Customs on an intelligence-driven activation pounced on a house and found boxes of illicit cigarettes whose value is yet to be determined.”
Boxes containing cartons of illicit cigarettes were stacked on the ground and first floors of the double-storey house.
Peters said while Mawela and Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko led operations around Johannesburg, the district commissioners of the West Rand, Sedibeng, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni also “ensured that criminals in their respective districts felt the heat” of ongoing Operation O Kae Molao.
“In the West Rand, police together with other law enforcement agencies on Thursday morning partnered with Eskom and embarked on a disruptive operation addressing illegal electricity connections in the Muldersdrift area.
“The integrated team cut off the illegal connections, with further investigations leading to two addresses where police arrested two suspects found in possession of suspected stolen Eskom transformers,” she said.
Three transformers and cables were seized.
“It is reported that this led to a group of protesters barricading the N14 and attacking police, who were able to swiftly contain the violence and disperse the crowd, clearing the roads for traffic. One hundred and eight-seven other suspects were arrested for different offences in other activations in the West Rand, 34 of whom were taken in for being illegally in the country,” said Peters.
“One hundred and forty-eight of the arrested suspects were successfully traced during the detective raids on warrants of arrest for crimes such as murder, assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm, child neglect, pointing of firearm, and possession of drugs.”
The operations in Tshwane resulted in the arrest of 279 wanted suspects, three for possession of drugs and 11 for being in the country illegally. Five illegal liquor outlets were shut down and fines were issued to five traders for contravention of the Second-Hand Goods Act.
The arrested suspects will appear before the respective courts across Gauteng.