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Operation Fiela: Over 12,000 arrested in KZN

Suspects were apprehended for murder, rape, robbery and other serious crimes.

FILE. Men lie flat on the floor as police search their rooms for illegal weapons, stolen goods and drugs during an overnight Operation Fiela raid in Jeppestown. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - KwaZulu-Natal police said they've arrested over 12,000 people for crimes ranging from rape to theft thanks to Operation Fiela.

The controversial joint operation between the South African Police Service (Saps), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Department of Home Affairs has been the most successful operation in the seizing of criminal elements from known hotspots.

WATCH: Police & the army hold their second joint raid in a xenophobic hotspot.

Of the 12,171 suspects, 223 were arrested for murder while 169 were arrested for rape, all of whom appeared in courts across the province.

Illegal firearms and goods including drugs were also seized during the operations.

WATCH: EWN reveals more dramatic footage from the Jeppestown hostel raid.

The police's Thulani Zwane said, "These arrests include suspects who were apprehended for murder, robbery, rape, possession of unlicensed firearm, as well as other cases. We're appealing to members of the community to please work hand-in-hand with the police."

The joint operation was sparked by xenophobic violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg last month.

WATCH: Police & army raided hostels and businesses in anti-crime operation in Bellville.