FIVE of Eastern Cape's most wanted criminals are behind bars after a crack team of the Hawks unit descended on the province at the weekend.
According to the unit's spokesperson Musa Zondi, the suspects are linked to a string of crimes that include business robberies, murder, attempted murder, hijacking and armed robbery.
He said one of the arrested men is a suspect in the killing of a police officer from the elite National Intervention Unit.
"The team, comprising head office members, the National Intervention Unit, the Hawks organised crime unit based in Mthatha, Crime Intelligence and other SAPS members, started their work on Saturday and 24 hours later they had arrested five of the six people they had targeted," Zondi said.
Police also recovered cash allegedly stolen from a shop in Tsolo owned by a Chinese national.
"Also in the list of recovered items was an unlicensed firearm and cellphones. Police are now talking to the Asset Forfeiture Unit with a view to investigating assets belonging to the suspects for possible attachment," he said.
He said the team was closing in on the other suspect.
Deputy provincial commissioner Yvonne Badi added in a statement: "This is the strongest signal yet to criminals that there is no place to hide in Eastern Cape."
Badi, the province's newly-appointed head of the Hawks, said the operation also signalled "our commitment to the multi-disciplinary approach that we will be using in fighting criminals not only here but in all corners of our country".
"It also talks to interprovincial cooperation that we will use to ensure that South Africans feel safe."