‘Criminals must feel and smell you when they go to sleep,’ Cele tells police

Minister Bheki Cele told police to be ruthless with armed criminals and put them “in a better place”.

The South African Police Service (Saps) has launched its National Safer Festive Season operations in Thohoyandou, Limpopo, in the hope of reducing crime over Christmas.

The launch, held at University of Venda Stadium, will be rolled out to all provinces until the end of January 2023.

The crimes that the operations will target include crimes against women and children, aggravated robberies, hijackings, robberies at residential premises and business robberies.

Rapes in Thohoyandou

Minister of Police Bheki Cele said they held the launch in Thohoyandou because the town was one of the five worst regions for rapes in the third quarter crime statistics.

“We want to make sure that people are safe, especially women and children… when a man, because it’s a man, grabs a nine-year-old, rapes and kills the nine-year-old, what goes in his mind. I just don’t know,” said Cele during his address at the launch.

He made a special request for police officers to prioritise assisting women who report gender-based-violence and told them to arrest anyone who perpetuates violence against women and children.

“So it is a call, be kind to that woman, that woman has been heavily abused. That woman needs empathy and comfort. Do not ask silly questions, ‘how did he rape you? How did he do it, show me.’ Do not do that… be empathetic to the victims.”

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Limpopo MEC for Transport and Community Safety, Florence Radzilani, said the majority of police stations in Limpopo do not have enough resources to combat crimes.

Cele, with the Deputy National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili, handed over operational resources, including 23 vehicles and mobile police community service centres.

Cele also said more police officers will be deployed in the region and no police officer will go on leave during the festive season.

Dealing with armed robbers

He urged police officers to use their weapons when dealing with armed criminals, and stated that they should put them “in a better place”.

“Every criminal that has a gun, must be treated as such because that criminal is not waiting for you there, to give you a broomstick or to give you a yellow duster. They are there with tough kinds of instruments, so when you approach the armed criminals, use your hard stuff and make sure when we come to pick up dead bodies we are not picking you up.”

He also saluted the police in the province for the swift arrests of perpetrators who are responsible for the murder of Collins Chabane Local Municipality mayor, Moses Maluleke.

“We are happy that some people are going to answer, they are going to tell us what happened. Why they had to kill him, including the fifth one that we arrested with five firearms.”

He said the fifth suspect is currently in hospital.

“I am worried about that, he should be in a better place than a hospital. Because you put him in hospital, he uses hot water, our electricity, our food, our medication… so put them in better places than a hospital, especially when they are armed,” added Cele.

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