Police praised for pouncing on murder suspects in Atteridgeville
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Pretoria - Community leaders in Atteridgeville have praised the police for efforts to restore law and order in their area following the deaths of more than six people in the last two weeks.
The community leaders, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said there were times when people were killed almost daily.
More than 330 people were arrested and five unlicensed firearms recovered when acting provincial police commissioner Major-General Tommy Mthombeni led a multidisciplinary and integrated operation at the weekend.
“There was a time when people were being shot and killed near or around the taxi loading spot by the informal settlements towards the mountains. People were being shot and killed even during the day,” a community leader said.
“Our area became so dangerous because people were being killed, worst of all by gangs of ‘untouchable’ criminals who live right here. Some live in the hostels and they are violent and are responsible for a lot of crimes in the area.
“Our community does not need this. Some of us were born here and we know Atteridgeville from when it was very quiet and peaceful. It has grown obviously, because people want places to live and to be in the urban areas.
“We have lost our sense of unity and community. The people in the bond houses have their own battles and the people in the informal settlements have their own battles for service delivery.
“We cannot come together to make criminals uncomfortable here. That is why we are grateful the police came here and enforced the law.”
Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said the deaths of more than six people had raised the concern of national and provincial police management and led to the intelligence-driven operation to trace the perpetrators.
He said police crime intelligence started to move into the area on Wednesday last week, where they identified a gang responsible for stealing cars.
“The team pounced on the suspects in Atteridgeville and Soshanguve. They arrested two suspects found with a Nissan Almera reported stolen in Bronkhorstspruit and a Nissan NP200 reported stolen in Pretoria Central.
“On Friday night, an intelligence-driven operation was conducted through the assistance of the Tshwane Tracing Team and Taxi Violence Team from the provincial office following information gathered on suspects involved in the taxi killings around Atteridgeville and Lotus Gardens.
“During the operation, the team stormed into a house in Pretoria West and arrested four suspects aged between 22 and 32 who were found in possession of five unlicensed firearms, ammunition and two vehicles that were reported stolen in Wierdabrug as well as Lenasia in the south of Johannesburg."
Masondo said that Mthombeni led an operation between Friday evening and Saturday morning when roadblocks were held on all main roads that enter and exit Atteridgeville.
“The team also cordoned off and searched the local hostel. It was during this operation when more than 330 people were arrested for crimes ranging from possession of unlicensed firearms to possession of drugs”.