Pretoria – A total of 83 479 people were arrested in South Africa between October and December 2016, the South African Police Service (SAPS) announced on Thursday.
The security campaigns were conducted countrywide under the Safer Festive Season #BackToBasics operations between 1 October and 31 December 2016.
The Western Cape had the highest number of arrests at 19 625, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 16 760 and Gauteng with 10 412 arrests. The Eastern Cape and North West had the lowest arrests with 5 339 and 3 826 respectively.
The arrests were effected during 705 639 policing operations.
“We are encouraged by the decrease in crime trends over this past festive season, which indicates that we successfully identified threats and implemented actions to counter and overcome those threats,” Acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane said in a media briefing which detailed the outcomes of the campaign.
The commissioner was accompanied by Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and SAPS top brass.
The Safer Festive Season campaign saw law enforcement officers doing patrols, roadblocks, search and seizure operations deployments in strategic areas such as shopping malls as well as investigative work, General Phahlane said.
This took place as coastal provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Western and Cape and Eastern Cape experienced an influx of visitors and tourists from inland provinces such as Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo, with increased traffic volumes on all national routes as well as the movement of migrant workers across borders.
Search and seizures
General Phahlane said through their operations 1 060 firearms, 8 691 rounds of ammunition and 669 vehicles were seized.
General Phahlane said KZN recorded the highest number of vehicle seizures at 241 vehicles. This was followed by the Eastern Cape with 128 and Gauteng 86.
KZN also had the highest number of firearm seizures at 357, followed by Eastern Cape with 182, Gauteng with 119, while the North West the lowest with 17.
The operations also focused on drugs. Among the arrests was that of a dealer who was caught with 31 000 mandrax tablets in the Western Cape.
Minister Nhleko said the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in communities remains a concern.
“Alcohol abuse is still a major problem in South Africa and is a key contributor to crime. The question of drugs and alcohol abuse tends to be a production point for criminal activity so these are areas that all of us need to concern ourselves with,” said Minister Nhleko.
High police visibility pays off
General Phahlane attributed the success of the Safer Festive Season campaign to high police visibility. This included the deployment of 4 953 newly graduated police constables to shopping malls, which drastically reduced the incidents of crime on these premises.
He also attributed it to the integrated crime prevention operations in identified areas which included shopping and entertainment locations, as well as the deployment of lieutenant generals to provinces to supplement the coordination of police operations and Provincial Commissioners taking command-and-control over operational duties.
These high visibility, multidisciplinary operations also influenced crime trends and crime statistics over this period, General Phahlane said.
For example, he said, “community-reported crimes” decreased. Categories under “community-reported crimes” include contact crimes, which decreased by 5.3%, contact-related crimes decreased by 5.4%, property-related crimes decreased by 2.2% and other serious crimes decreased by 5.3%.
“Crimes detected as a result of police action” saw an increase of 8.4%, which is positive news as it indicates that targeted police operations have yielded results in these areas, General Phahlane said.
He said this reflects a direct correlation between police actions, operations and arrests.
Minister Nhleko thanked the nation for the support and working with the police.
“We view these successes, translated into decreases in crime statistics, as a major victory in the fight against crime. We have now proved that together, we are a winning team. Thank you, South Africa; it can be done.”