Over 1,800 wanted criminals are roaming the streets of Olievenhoutbosch freely as police are allegedly failing to arrest them.
Minister of Police Bheki Cele revealed during a public imbizo that police officers said there were over 1,800 cases that had not been finalised.
Cele said officers claimed they closed the cases because suspects could not be found.
Residents told Cele and his entourage that police officers in the area were colluding with criminals and collecting bribes.
They said they would reveal the identity of officers who worked with criminals in the township.
Residents claimed that police officers were against Community Policing Forum members because they “disturbed” them from their ill-doings.
Some complained that officers pleaded with victims of crime, including GBV and rape, to withdraw their cases.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a police station here. Some suspects are out on bail on serious charges, including one who is out on bail on three separate cases of murder,” Cele said.
Cele promised to appoint a task team to attend to complaints.
He asked those who complained about corrupt officers to approach the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
He said: “The crime profile of this place is terrible. Things need to happen. The time to fix this area needs to be short. I feel pain when people raise genuine issues about the police inability to service them.”
“I am pained that not a single officer here has been praised for good work. If there is no relationship between the community and the police, there shall be no future, and criminals will run over us as they are doing now.
“We are not going to win against crime here unless we implement serious changes. Olievenhoutbosch police station is number 47 in terms of crime nationally.
“About 12 cars meant to service this area are at our garage waiting to be fixed. Those cars have been at the SAPS garage since March 2020,” said Cele.
“The number of detectives is very low. We must work on those 1 800 cases that have been closed. If there are 1 800 cases opened, it means we have more than 1 800 criminals who kill, rape and rob freely.
“Those criminals are indeed free, as residents have alluded. Murder and rape cases must be taken care of urgently,” he said.
Cele promised to work with community structures to fight crime.
“We will work with IPID against corrupt officers who have been identified. We need to revisit the area at night accompanied by Amabherethe (Tactical Response Team).
“We will use our boots to knock on doors. They will not beat people. They will only arrest. Our clients are hiding here, and we need to come and collect them,” said Cele.