Residents of the Johannesburg suburb Hillbrow, which in the past was associated with violence and unruliness, mostly spent New Year’s Eve indoors as 2020 drew to a close.
Gauteng police commissioner Elias Mawela said this was the second successful New Year’s Eve operation in Hillbrow.
Mawela and his subordinates tightened their boots and hit the ground running in the notorious part of Johannesburg on Thursday night.
In the past, Hillbrow was synonymous with extreme violence, with many people being injured and its streets littered with garbage, furniture, rocks and stones, burning tyres and other items, such as fridges, thrown from windows.
This year, however, the suburb was a different scene, except for a few broken bottles and other small items on the streets. This has been attributed to lockdown regulations and constant police visibility.
A handful of people were seen roaming the streets, but on seeing the police convoy, they quickly dashed into properties.
Many homeless people were seen sleeping under blankets, with only a few awake.
In many streets, police were greeted with whistles, vuvuzelas and ululation from residents applauding their presence.
Mawela said the operation was a success thanks to the cooperation of residents and their leaders.
“Here in Hillbrow, it is mission accomplished. What we wished to accomplish is peace, harmony and people enjoying [New Year’s Eve] without violence. There is no war and we didn’t have any conflict with residents.
“Last year, we were here and there were no challenges. Last year, there was no lockdown and people were jovial on the streets. They were out and mingling with us. We even entered some liquor outlets addressing patrons.
“Our recipe is continuous engagements with people. The role played by the Hillbrow Community Policing Forum is highly appreciated. They interact with people and warn residents that it is not in their interest to cause havoc. Working together with the community, surely we will have a peaceful Hillbrow,” Mawela said.
Some arrests made
By midnight, Gauteng police had arrested 94 people throughout the province. Most of the arrests were of people who contravened the Disaster Management Act.
“We have arrested nine people for drink and driving [and] one for the possession of unlicensed ammunition.
“On the West Rand, we have also arrested few people with unlicensed firearms and ammunition. We think for now we have achieved our objective. There is a hijacked vehicle that has been recovered. We think we have done very well,” Mawela said.