SOWETAN | Efforts by police welcomed

Police minister Bheki Cele.
Police minister Bheki Cele.

Police minister Bheki Cele’s public message to cops across the nation yesterday was clear – no police officer should die with a gun in their hand. 

“We call on the police to remain vigilant, protect communities and protect themselves. At all times, act tough on crime.” 

Cele was briefing the nation amid ongoing public discourse following incidents where suspects are killed by police in retaliation to violent confrontations during arrest. 

The latest was in KwaZulu-Natal last week, where police shot dead nine suspects they say ambushed them during arrest. 

We welcome Cele’s assertion that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate will be allowed to do its work to probe the circumstances of the such killings. 

This is not to cast aspersions on the work of the police but to ensure that their actions are indeed within the law. 

We also welcome assurance that police will be given the necessary support and protection as they tackle some of this country’s most violent criminals. 

Worth noting from yesterday’s briefing were the numbers shared which give some insight into what appears to be improved intelligence arm of the police. 

In recent years we have seen how instability and infighting in the leadership of the police rendered its crime intelligence unit dysfunctional and frankly useless in the fight against escalating levels of organised crime. 

Cele says the tide is turning, thanks to the stabilising of the police management, including the appointment of a crime intelligence head. 

The numbers presented yesterday suggest this is indeed the case. 

Since April last year, police have recorded more than 3,000 suspects arrested in 1,171 intelligence-driven operations by the police. 

Their crimes include murder, extortion, property related crimes and cash-in-transit robberies. 

The breakthroughs, police say, are a result of weeks and at times, months of planning, surveillance and monitoring of targets to gather information. 

A number of arrests in various high profile matters, such as murder of musician AKA, the Fort Hare university killings and corruption and the murder of a Rand Water executive are a result of this work. 

Ultimately, the true test of success is the prosecution and conviction of those arrested, based on the credible evidence presented in court. 

For now, the police must be commended for what seems to be good strides in the fight against organised crime. 

Ours remains an extremely dangerous society. It is encouraging to see some inroads made by our men and women in blue.

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