Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety Councillor Sello Lemao said there had been a sharp increase in illegal activities – including smash and grabs – around certain traffic intersections.
“The continued and unchecked prevalence of these activities has turned our motorists into sitting targets for theft, assault, robbery, and harassment,” Lemao said.
The initial plan, known as Operation ke Molao (It’s Law), is to combine the use of intelligence, enforcement and deployment of a fleet of marked and unmarked vehicles targeted hotspots.
“We cannot continue to have a situation where motorists are attacked for their valuables whilst waiting for traffic signals, getting onto onramps and even on the freeways during traffic jams,” said Lemao.
The operation began on December 20.
Lemao wagged a metaphorical finger at those who supported beggars and vendors at intersections, and added the City of Johannesburg was looking at making it illegal to make donations or buy from vendors at intersections.
Johannesburg ward councillor David Potter welcomed the move, but felt it was one of many which had disappeared into thin air.
“We’ve been down this road before,” despaired Potter. He made specific reference to the JMPD 10+ programme, which stuttered into existence here and there but seems to have faded away.
In 2012, the official blurb on the city’s website stated: “The programme aims to reduce the actual incidences of crime, improve by-law enforcement and traffic management and at the same time engage in proactive policing through improving community relations”.
Lemao denied Operation ke Molao was a mere rewording of the +10 programme and showed the unit had made a number of arrests and issued more than 600 citations in its short existence.
In a city of more than five million people, it seems like a drop in the ocean and JMPD chief Zwelibanzi Nyanda acknowledged there were not enough police officers in the city.
“We have a very big city, with many big arterial routes and many big intersections. In our operational plan we have identified a few intersections we will deal with initially,” said Nyanda.
There were 10 intersections the operation would be focussing on initially.