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Police Minister Bheki Cele says combating crime through decisive police action and robust community involvement remains at the heart of policing in the country.

“We all can agree that crime is [at unacceptable] levels and communities have called on the SAPS [South African Police Service] to respond to their crime concerns,” Cele said.

Addressing media on the Police Take Down Successes of Police Counter Operations in Pretoria on Sunday, Cele said in the past few of days, SAPS has intercepted armed and dangerous gangs, who have left a reign of terror and fear in their wake.

“A group of 11 youngsters terrorising the community of Mariannhill in KwaZulu- Natal was intercepted, and nine were shot and killed during the arrest,” Cele said.

Cele said over 20 would-be cash-in-transit (CIT) robbers in Witbank, Mpumalanga, were also stopped in their tracks through coordinated responses by the police and private security.

“Five of the suspects were killed during gunfire exchange with police in their attempt to evade arrest. Eight of CIT robbers were arrested and another nine managed to escape.

“There is no doubt that these criminals and many others are ruthless and arrogant. Their actions demonstrate that they will eliminate anything and anyone that stands in their way.

“Criminals have waged a war on communities and are so brazen, they are testing the authority of the State by attacking police officers,” Cele said.

Cele said police remain unapologetic in their aggressive and decisive response to crime.

“This Ministry remains in full support of police work that results in safer communities. We will forever welcome the arrest of criminals and for them to have their day in court.

“But criminals are warned that if they engage the police instead of surrendering themselves; they will come out short.

“We are clear police will continue to protect communities and push back hard on criminality. Not on our watch will we allow criminals to walk all over communities and certainly not the country’s law enforcement,” Cele said.

Cele said the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division has been rejuvenated and bolstered to identify and infiltrate syndicates.

He said intervention units and tactical response teams of the SAPS continue to be capacitated.

“The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations and overall detection of organised crime is sharper than ever. The combination of all these policing services is decisively responding to crime especially to violent and serious crime.

“Without an ounce of hesitation, officers on the ground will protect their lives and preserve the lives of innocent community members when the need arises,” Cele said.

He said takedowns by the police are not isolated and are not coincidental.

“They are as a direct result of reliable and strong intelligence coupled by sharp tactical readiness of police units who are trained to neutralise any threat and protect lives,” he said.

According to Cele, from April 2023 to date, 1 171 intelligence-led takedowns were conducted by the SAPS.

To date, 3 749 suspects have been apprehended during intelligence-led takedowns. These include 173 for murder, 57 for extortion and kidnapping, 164 for property-related crimes and 269 for vehicle-related crimes.

Cele said 768 suspects have been arrested for possession of illegal firearms.

“Four hundred and eighty-eight and 79 suspects were arrested for robberies and CIT robberies, respectively; 1 510 drug-related and 214 illicit mining arrests were made from April to date during intelligence-led takedowns,” he said. –

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