Cele: 'Anti-gang unit has made 119 arrests since launch'
Bheki Cele and Khehla Sitole addressed the media and various community organisations in Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain on Thursday.
Cele and national police commissioner Khehla Sitole addressed the media and various community organisations in Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain on Thursday.
“Thirty-five prominent gang leaders have been targeted and we’re watching them, 266 gang strongholds have been searched since 8 November 2018 to date. We’re squeezing the space and taking oxygen out of their lives.”
Cele says the unit has also made arrests not related directly to gangsterism.
“The unit has thus far has reported the following successes: 119 arrests - the 110 above is clearly gangster related and the 119 is general arrests.”
But Western Cape Community Safety MEC Alan Winde claims the anti-gang unit is being used to score political points.
The provincial government was not invited to Cele’s address at the Thusong Centre in Tafelsig.
Winde has accused Cele of politicising the unit.
“We welcomed the anti-gang unit, we want to work in partnership with all law-enforcement and crime-fighting organisations and civil society to make this province safer. We believe this unit is not a political intervention. This is about crime fighting and removing the power that the gangs have over society.
"And then the minister comes to report back and he does not invite either myself of the Department of Community Safety; and does not recognise the role that we need to play. That's totally unacceptable."
The police minister says more than 60,000 people have been charged this year, thanks to actions under Operation Thunder.
Cele highlighted Operation Thunder's successes.
“Since the inception of Operation Thunder on 11 May 2018, a total number of 60,399 people have been charged in all categories of crime in the province.”
Mitchells Plain resident Lynn Phillips says the community can feel a difference since the operational launch of the anti-gang unit early last month.
“As the Mitchells Plain community, we will support the anti-gang unit. We will go to the streets if it means they will be interdicted because the leadership of SAPS doesn’t stay in Mitchells Plain, they don’t see what is happening here.”