Police Minister Bheki Cele says a crime prevention operation in the Western Cape launched in May resulted in the arrests of more than 5 000 suspects.
Operation Thunder targeted nine criminal hotspots and involved the deployment of 267 people.
In a statement, Cele’s spokesperson Reneilwe Serero said nine specific areas were targeted, including gang hotspots Manenberg and Elsies River.
“This operation has, at its core, a geographical and targeted approach focusing on dominating specific hotspot areas and identified individuals,” Serero said. “We have strategically erected three base camps in Lavender Hill, in Steenberg, Uitsig in Ravensmead and Philippi East [Stock Road].”
The base camps were set up to create an operational presence at all times and to integrate operational forces including metro police and traffic and other law-enforcement agencies.
She said relationships improved with communities, and tip-offs from residents were more forthcoming.
Of the 5 111 suspects arrested, 999 were for contact crimes, 48 for murder, and 63 for attempted murder. Fifty-one suspects were arrested for sexual assaults while 645 people were picked up for assault. Drug-related crimes made up a total of 1 861 arrests, with 100kg of dagga and 5 441 mandrax tablets confiscated.
The statement said 24 gang ‘high flyers’ had been arrested to date including a hitman from the 28s Barbarian Mobsters. Aldino Petersen will appear in court on charges of attempted murder on July 30.
The Democratic Alliance, which runs the province, however, believes more needs to be done, and on Thursday called on the African National Congress-led national government to deploy the army to gang hotspots.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane was planning a march with thousands of Cape Town residents to the Nyanga police station on Thursday to protest crime.
The party said the ANC needed to “honour their commitment to deploy the army to crime-ridden communities in Cape Town”.
“On Monday the latest victim of crime – a young father – was gunned down at the Eastridge Clinic in Mitchells Plain, just metres away from the nearest police station,” it said.
“Cape Town’s poorest and most vulnerable communities continue to live in constant fear of gangs and drug dealers, and the rampant crime which results from this activity.”