Law enforcement authorities have sent out the message loud and clear that South African communities will not rule alongside or be ruled by criminals.
“We cannot rule with criminals. It’s either them or us.” These were the stern words of national police commissioner Fannie Masemola after police thwarted a cash-in-transit (CIT) heist in Dobsonville, Soweto, at the weekend.
The bust comes after the police received information around 5.30pm on Friday that there was a heist planned for Saturday.
Following up on the information, police proceeded to an active scene in Dobsonville where the suspects were intercepted before they could execute their plan to bomb a CIT cash van.
A shootout ensued between the police members and the suspects, leaving two of the suspects dead.
Police have since launched a manhunt for the remaining suspects, who fled the scene on foot.
A R5 rifle, three AK47s and three vehicles that were to be used in the commission of the crime were recovered by the police.
Masemola applauded the team involved in foiling the planned heist, adding that the police would continue to deal decisively with serious and violent crime plaguing communities.
“Our intelligence operators are on the ground, our teams are on high alert. Our focus and clampdown is on serious and violent crime with a view to apprehend and ensure the successful conviction of those behind CIT crimes in the country.”
The bust comes after private security firms, in October, stressed how even they were battling to turn the tide against CIT heists as criminals were turning to more violent means to get access to money.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Fidelity Security Services CEO Wahl Bartmann painted a worrying picture of how as many as 250 CIT heists had been recorded by October 2023.
Bartmann said criminals appeared to be highly organised, potentially ex-military, using armour-penetrating gunfire on top of bombings to execute the heists.
Police Minister Bheki Cele also expressed frustration following the release of the fourth-quarter crime statistics covering the 2022/23 financial year, which revealed that despite police efforts CIT heists had shown a stubborn increase.
Cele detailed how as early as May 2023, there had been at least 64 incidents reported between January and March last year, a worrying 20.8% increase in such incidents.