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SA: Bheki Cele: Address by Police Minister, at the press conference of police take down successes of police counter operations (26/09/2023)


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SA: Bheki Cele: Address by Police Minister, at the press conference of police take down successes of police counter operations (26/09/2023)

Police Minister general Bheki Cele
Police Minister general Bheki Cele

26th September 2023


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Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s briefing is on the policing successes in the fight against crime.


In line with the theme for this year’s Budget Vote of “Combating Crime through Decisive Police Action and Robust Community involvement”

The operationalisation of the Increased Crime Prevention and Combating Action Plan through Operation Shanela is yielding desired results in combatting organised crime.


This is the very reason why this administration is stamping the authority of the State through the adoption of an aggressive high-density policing approach; ‘Operation Shanela’ to conduct crime prevention and combating operations. National intervention teams are also hard at work in stabilising various provincial crime challenges.

The Security Cluster working with synergy and agility through the National Joints Operational and Intelligence structures (NatJOINTS) is also commendable.

But over and above all this, we have gone to lengths as this government, to capacitate the SAPS Crime Intelligence division; so that it is effective and capable and frankly up to the task to identify and infiltrate syndicates.

We have made serious inroads in stabilising the institution

Each day, the Intelligence community, through working with the SAPS specialised units and intervention teams, is responding to crime and dismantling syndicates, cartels and any organized criminal groupings using violence for their criminal gains.

This is why we have called this press conference today.

Members of the Media,

We wish to provide a thorough update on the work of the police who are pushing back against crime in the country and flushing out ruthless and greedy organised criminal syndicates.

We will today highlight some of the major successes achieved by the SAPS in the last couple of weeks but also remind the nation of the work that has been achieved through planning and interception of gangs in recent days.

The work of the SAPS has, through intelligence led operations and weekly high density operations, resulted in the arrest of thousands of criminals, especially dangerous and hardened criminals.

Assets worth millions of rand have been recovered and firearms have been removed off our streets.

These covert operations have also resulted in multiple deaths of suspects who violently resisted arrest.

Some of these meticulously conducted take-downs should renew our hope as a country, that officers in blue are gaining ground againts crime and continue to flush out criminality in both affluent and impoverished areas of society.

South Africans on various platforms have welcomed the bolstered and desicive policing efforts by the SAPS who are going toe-to toe with criminals.

But in the same breath, we are also aware that the SAPS triumphs over crime is a bitter pill to swallow by some.

During this press conference we also wish to expand on an emerging Criminal Block that is attempting to push an anti-police agenda; I will elaborate on this later.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to start my address this morning,  by highlighting SOME of the high profile and major interceptions achieved by the SAPS as a direct result of improved coordination between Crime Intelligence and Specialised units of the SAPS.

Crime Intelligence information remains central in the take-down of armed and ruthless gangs.

In the past week alone, police have registered a number of successes, including the latest take down of Cash-in-transit heist suspects in Hoedspruit, Limpopo in which four suspects were killed and three suspects arrested.

Taking  from a statement  released by the Hoedspruit Farmwatchers

“The Hoedspruit Farmwatch have a very good relationship with our local police and a large number of specialist SAPS units and we work very well in partnership with them.   We are there only to support and strengthen their hands.    The police did NOT run away from the scene and were there from start to way beyond the end.   SAPS on all levels did an awesome job and we are very proud to work with them.”

We would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the working relationship with the Hoedspruit Farmwatchers who worked closely with the SAPS in taking down this syndicate.

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, 20 September 2023.

The syndicate had been targeting the L G B T Q I + 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.

Still on Kidnapping, in the NORTH WEST In August 2023, an intelligence driven operation led to the arrest of seven (7) suspects who kidnapped the victims for ransom related to municipality tenders.

The clients were lured to a house to sign a contract/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 300 thousand rand.

The suspects are facing Kidnapping charges including that of Impersonating Police officials and Possession of fraudulent documents. Recoveries included: Two (2) unlicensed firearms (pistols) with fifteen (15) live rounds, SAPS uniform with two (2) appointment certificates and two (2) vehicles

In KwaZulu-Natal, following a shooting incicident which resulted in the fatal shooting of five men at a parking lot of a shopping centre in Richards Bay on the 19th September 2023.  24 hours later, Police acted on information and traced two suspects to an upmarket estate in Ballito where a shootout ensued.

The pair were shot and killed during a take down operation which involved specialised units of the SAPS, including the National Intervention Unit (NIU)

One of the suspects was on the police wanted list and being investigated in a number of cases. One suspect is is being sought by police.

Two (2) Rifles, Two (2) Shot guns, Four (4) 9mm pistols, Fifty Eight (58) Rifle live ammunition, Fourteen (14) Shotgun live Ammunition & Thirty Nine (39) 9mm live ammunition rounds were confiscated during this operation.

In the Eastern Cape, police arrested a gang that had robbed a store of R1 million worth of jewellery.

Just hours later, police followed up on information and tracked down and arrested all ten suspects, following a crime intelligence driven operation.

All the stolen jewellery was recovered as well as four firearms.

This syndicate is linked to numerous other similar heists across the country.

Illegal mining syndicates are also being intercepted and taken down.

In Carolina, Mpumalanga, the illicit mining task team shutdown an illegally operated coal mine and seized mining equipment worth over R60 million rand as well as coal worth R12 million.

A mine manager was arrested and a manhunt is underway for the mine owner.

In Khutsong in the Gauteng province, the DPCI under Operation Gillette arrested nine suspects for illegal mining and they attached through preservation order, 58 properties (51 Vehicles including luxury vehicles and seven houses) to the value of over R17 million.

They will be appearing in court 29 September 2023.

In the Northern Cape, 867 illegal miners were arrested during an intelligence driven operation in the Namakwa region on Tuesday 19 September 2023.

The area which is a hotspot for illegal mining activities is being closely monitored and police are working closely with other relevant departments to combat illegal mining activities.

Cash in Transit Heists takedowns

 From 01 April to date, the following successes were achieved.

On 06 April 2023, an Intelligence Driven proactive operation was conducted in Sebokeng, West of Johannesburg, where a group of 11 suspects were shot and killed during a shootout with the Police. The suspects were intercepted before they left their safe house en-route to commit a Cash In-transit robbery.

6 Rifles and 6 Explosives, Bullet Proof Vests, Hand Radios and 4 vehicles were recovered during this Operation.

On 19 May 2023, an intelligence driven operation was conducted to intercept a group of suspects who were planning a CIT robbery in the Soweto/West Rand area.

Five (5) suspects were arrested Three (3) rifles, One (1) black 9mm Vector 9mm pistol, One (1) signal jamming device, false vehicle registration plates were among items recovered.

Five (5) vehicles were also found on the premises and confiscated.

On 12 August 2023, a Takedown Operation was conducted in Eden Park, East of Johannesburg, where CIT suspects were intercepted at their safe house prior to committing the crime. 5 Suspects were arrested, 3 Firearms and Five vehicles confiscated


In Limpopo on 01 September 2023, a highly publicized intelligence driven operation saw the interception of a CIT syndicate operating between Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo who were planning a CIT robbery in the Makhado area.

An over 90 minute long shootout ensued between police and the suspects at the safe house resulting in the death of 19 suspects including two females.

Eleven (11) rifles, one (1) pistol, three hundred (300) rounds of ammunition and several explosives and nine (9) vehicles were recovered.

Out of the 9 vehicles 6 were reported stolen.

Members of the media,

We wish to also highlight that the work of the CI in rooting out some corrupt officers also taking part in criminality.

In Mpumalanga, on 04 August 2023, an intelligence driven operation was conducted at the target’s safe house in Masoyi, Hazyview to recover Firearms resulting in 01 suspect arrested and confiscated (4) AK 47 Rifles, fifteen (15) magazines, 343 live rounds of ammunition and explosives were recovered.

In the same province, on Friday 28 July 2023, an intelligence driven operation was conducted to follow up information on CIT suspects which led to the arrest of a Mbombela traffic official.

The vehicles that were identified at the crime scene were found parked in her yard. The two (2) vehicles were confiscated.

The suspect was charged for conspiracy to commit crime and robbery under aggravating circumstances, attempted murder, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

The case against the traffic official has been postponed to tomorrow, 27 September 2023.

On 17 August 2023, seven (7) suspects were arrested at Nelspruit in Mpumalanga of which three (3) were members of SAPS Highway Patrol who were involved in Cash in Transit Heists in Mpumalanga.

Six (6) riffles, one (1) 9mm pistol, twelve (12) fully loaded magazines, explosives and detonator cord were recovered during this operation.

The recovered pistol was subsequently linked to the CIT incident which took place on 11 August 2023, in Malelane, Mpumalanga.

Umhlaba Uyalingana

Safety and security has been restored in Emanguzi in Northern KZN where communities had been living in fear due to cross border motor vehicle theft syndicates operating in the area.

This follows the deployment of a task team to clamp down on cross-border vehicle smuggling syndicates in the area.

Since its deployment from 1st February to date, 140 suspects have been arrested for various crimes including theft, robbery and murder.

64 vehicles have since been recovered and 57 firearms have also been seized.

In August police registered a major breakthrough when three of the most wanted cross border vehicle smuggling suspects were arrested for the murder of KZN anti-crime activisit, Juda Mthethwa.

Mthethwa was gunned down outside his home in February this year.

Crime intelligence

Ladies and Gentlemen

I have highlighted some of the work that is a direct result of a capacitated SAPS that has effective units that are up to the task and working without fear of favour.

Crime Intelligence operators with the work of informants and units within the SAPS continue to clamp down on organized crimes linked to kidnapping, extortion, narcotics, cash-in-transit, vehicle and truck hijackings.

Overall the SAPS continues to respond decisively to crimes linked to critical infrastructure, commercial crimes, stock theft, illegal mining and illicit cigarettes and theft as well as hijacking and smuggling of motor vehicles.

It is clear the major shake-up and change of management in the Crime Intelligence unit is starting to yield very positive results.

The Crime intellignce division now has a tighter grip and is providing crucial information that is assisting everyday policing.

It is not a sole mission but rather team work that is resulting in the interception and prevention of serious and violent crimes BEFORE they take place.

Let me put it on the record that the Intelligence community is gaining back its might and its bite.

The CI unit under the leadership of Lt General Khumalo enjoys the full support of the Ministry and SAPS management.

It should continue to conduct its work without fear or favour for the benefit of all South Africans.

Crime Intelliegence division, the job before you is not an easy one but it is certainly very possible to close those taps and leakages in your unit and clean out the rot that is stifling progress.

Members of the Media,

It is with concern that as we note these successes, on the eve of this press briefing, we see media reports and commentary by some academics that seek to discredit the positive work of the Crime Intelligence unit.

It is no coincidence and it remains a low blow to recycle old and fabricated stories in order to try and shift the focus of the good work achieved by this unit;

A unit that was previously and deliberately hollowed out and rendered useless at some point in the history of this organisation.

We view such as mere attempts to try and derail the work of the police and we want to be clear that such experiments – for whatever reasons; will not deter us.

As the SAPS we know where we are going and we also know that if criminals are dealt a blow, there will always be resistance.

Any opposition to change within Crime Intelligence, that is underway to bolster its work, remains unfortunate;  BUT we remain more determined to fix the unit and capacitate the police service in its entirety.

The Criminal Block that I referred to earlier in my statement, is part of this resistance againts the police and policing work, especially that of Crime Intelligence.

Whatever the motive may be, the SAPS remains unshaken and focused.

We know that elements againts change are using some individuals, in society, academia, media and within the police service to push back on the policing work; Again we are NOT moved and we remain focused.

The FACT is, the SAPS is more coordinated and working closer with communities to dismantle syndicates or individuals who choose the life of crime.

As I conclude,

Police through their aggressive approach to crime have fired a warning shot; to ALL elements of criminality and those who support crime.

We are clear that South Africa is not and will never be, a haven for criminals or organized crimes.

The long arm of the law will not be selective nor will it be kind.

The National Joints Operational and Intelligence structure continues to bolster our efforts and ensuring the security cluster grows stronger than before.

I want to thank communities who continue to support the work of the police through providing valuable information to the SAPS, to assist in police investigations and those who bring forward information that assists the overall intelligence community.

 Indeed “Iphoyisa YiPhoyisa NgoMphakathi” I thank you.


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