The number 2 in the hierarchy of the top 20 cash-in-transit heist kingpins has been arrested, Police Minister Bheki Cele has said.
“We have a name, I’m not going to give you his name. We have arrested number two in the hierarchy. He’s number two in the top twenty,” Cele said on Wednesday as he affirmed the police’s efforts to clamp down on cash-in-transit heists.
Referring to the viral video which showed a cash-in-transit heist in Boksburg, Cele acknowledged the fear that had been instilled in communities.
“Out of that we arrested five of the suspects,” he said.
Cele also said since Monday’s announcement of a specialised task force to prioritise cash-in-transit heists, the police had arrested 13 people related to cash-in-transit heists in less than 24 hours.
On Tuesday morning, money was being transported along the R71 road between Letsitele and Tarentaal outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, when the security vehicle was attacked by two separate vehicles, comprising of around 10 suspects in total.
After shooting out the tyres and bringing the vehicle to a complete halt, the suspects fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The guards were left unharmed.
Within minutes the police were called and following a shoot-out, three of the five suspects were nabbed. One was fatally wounded and another managed to flee the scene.
Cele on Wednesday commended the efforts by the community in helping the police to nab the suspects after members of the Farm Watch assisted in blocking the route.
Cele pointed out five urgent aspects of crime which the police were now increasing their attention towards:
1) Gang killings in the Western Cape
2) Political killings in KwaZulu-Natal
3) Cash in transit heists in the various affected provinces
4) The taxi violence
“These cases bring immediate fear to communities. That does not undermine our focus on the women and children abuse that remains the top issue,” he said.
Cele said he was looking at photos of young girls who have been killed and “it seems that the more beautiful you are, the more you will be killed”.
He also urged the media to double-check their sources because people were taking to social media to report crimes which were, in fact, not true.
“That is a friendly gesture from our part, please check and re-check your sources,” Cele said.
In the Western Cape, Operation Thunder was implemented in March as part of the police’s efforts in increasing its presence and tackling crime in the province.
The operation has involved specialised units from other provinces being brought in to deal with crime.
“We have reduced the activities of the high killings, we have reduced the activities of gangsterism. We are sanitising and stabilising [the province],” Cele said.
On Monday, he outlined plans for “high-density stabilisation intervention”.
As part of this effort, increased police visibility as well as specialised teams focusing on high-priority crimes like cash-in-transit heists, murders and house robberies would be increased.