Three men were allegedly caught in the act while burgling a house in an upmarket Cape Town suburb this weekend when police officers closed in on them.
Police said they received information about a possible robbery in Tokai on Sunday and activated a Tactical Response Team attached to Operation Thunder.
The operation, launched by Police Minister Bheki Cele last year, was aimed at stabilising gangsterism and other serious crime in the Western Cape by bringing in between 270 and 300 police officers from specialised units in other provinces.
Usually a quiet suburb with its greenery and high walls, residents may have been surprised by the sight of a TRT police van on a street corner and a group of police officers in the road on Sunday afternoon.
Officers armed with rifles and wearing bulletproof vests, and black helmets – with only their eyes showing through a face covering – were seen crouching in a driveway behind a car.
Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk said three robbers entered the home at around 3.30pm.
“The suspects were being monitored after information was received,” he said.
Someone on the scene, who asked not to be identified, said police officers had gone into the home “in full force”.
It was not long before the TRT cornered the alleged intruders inside the house and arrested them, said Van Wyk.
They recovered three firearms and were charged with house robbery, possession of firearms, possession of a prohibited firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition.
They are expected to appear in court soon.
In his 2019/2020 budget speech earlier this year, national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole indicated that R119.8 million had been spent on deployments for Operation Thunder in the Western Cape for the previous financial year.