Crime crackdown on cash-in-transit heists, kidnappings, and cross-border syndicates

Police Minister Bheki Cele and the security cluster briefed the media on the recent successes of the South African Police Services. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele and the security cluster briefed the media on the recent successes of the South African Police Services. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 26, 2023


In a relentless drive to curb criminal activities, Police Minister Bheki Cele commended the South African Police Service (SAPS) for its significant successes through intelligence-led operations and high-density initiatives.

Thousands of dangerous and entrenched criminals have been apprehended, while assets worth millions of rands and illicit firearms have been removed from the streets recently.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who briefed the media on Tuesday, said recent covert operations have seen multiple arrests and, in some cases, confrontations resulting in the death of suspects who resisted arrest.

These meticulously executed “take-downs” demonstrated the dedication of law enforcement officers in combating crime across both affluent and impoverished areas, he said.

He underscored these accomplishments, emphasising the vital role of Crime Intelligence in taking down armed and ruthless criminal gangs.

One notable success occurred in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, where a cash-in-transit heist was thwarted, resulting in the arrest of three suspects and the killing of four others.

This operation, he said, showcased the effective partnership between SAPS and local communities, such as the Hoedspruit Farmwatchers.

Among those arrested was a most wanted suspect, a Mozambican national, linked to a murder of a police officer, a spate of car hijackings, house and business robberies and fraud cases.

Police seized one pistol, a rifle and some of the stolen money.

In Gauteng, a multidisciplinary team led by the Anti-Kidnapping Task Team rescued an 18-year-old Wits University student from a kidnapping syndicate last Wednesday.

The syndicate had been targeting the LGBTQI+ community through a popular dating app.

“Police have broken the back of this particular kidnapping syndicate that has so far been linked to over 50 kidnappings, where ransom demands were being made,” Cele said.

In the North West, an intelligence-driven operation led to the arrest of seven suspects who kidnapped the victims for ransom related to municipality tenders in August.

According to Cele, the clients were lured to a house to sign a contract or documents relating to a solar geyser project to the value of R17 million.

The suspects, who were dressed in police uniform, were found holding the victims hostage and demanding an amount of R300,000.

The fight against criminality extended to illegal mining syndicates, with operations in various provinces yielding significant results.

In Carolina, Mpumalanga, an illegal mining task force shut down operations at an illicit coal mine, seizing equipment and coal worth millions of rand. Arrests were made, but a manhunt was under way for the mine owner.

Moreover, the relentless efforts to combat cash-in-transit (CIT) heists have also borne fruit, with successful take-downs and arrests of suspects involved in planned robberies.

Notably, a highly publicised operation in Limpopo saw the interception of a CIT syndicate operating across Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, with intentions to carry out a CIT robbery in the Makhado area.

A tense standoff lasting over 90 minutes ensued at a safe house, resulting in a fatal exchange of fire between law enforcement and the suspects. Nineteen suspects, including two women, died during the confrontation.

Cele added that safety and security had been reinstated in Emanguzi in northern KwaZulu-Natal, quelling the long-standing fear instilled by cross-border motor vehicle theft syndicates operating in the region.

Since its initiation on February 1, the task force apprehended 140 suspects involved in a range of crimes, including theft, robbery, and murder. Additionally, their efforts have led to the recovery of 64 stolen vehicles and the seizure of 57 firearms, bolstering law enforcement's ongoing efforts to combat criminality in the area.

A significant breakthrough was achieved in August when the police apprehended three of the region's most wanted cross-border vehicle smuggling suspects. These individuals were also implicated in the murder of Juda Mthethwa, a well-known anti-crime activist in KZN, who tragically lost his life in a targeted attack outside his home in February.