JOHANNESBURG – A joint operation by the South African Police Services and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department nabbed 124 suspects in the filthy and dilapidated buildings of the inner-city Wednesday.
The operation, code-named “Bad Buildings”, was aimed at nabbing wanted criminals, cutting down on criminal activities and putting a check on those who flout city bylaws.
Among those arrested, 21 were illegal immigrants, while four other suspects were found in possession police bullets and home-made rifles. At least one other person was arrested for selling liquor without a licence. Police also recovered dangerous weapons like pangas, knives and crowbars most likely being used to commit crime.
The suspects were taken to Hillbrow police station for screening and further investigations, while the other 99 were questioned and released.
JMPD spokesperson, Superintendent Wayne Minnaar, said that the operation was conducted to fish out criminals who used the dilapidated buildings as their hide-outs.
“Most of these buildings are hijacked and harbor criminals,” said Sup. Minnaar.
“We won’t stop until criminals feel the heat because we want to see a safe and peaceful South Africa. This operation focuses on arresting any person who indulges in any criminal activity and runs to these buildings to hide.”
With the rate of wrongdoing rising, the law enforcement agents seemed ready to put up a big fight as they adopt a zero tolerance approach towards criminal activities. The operation is set to be extended to other areas in Gauteng, including the capital Pretoria.
“This is a provincial operation and we will conduct it in other Gauteng areas because we want to reduce the rate of crime and make sure that we bring the culprits to book. I see this operation today as a success considering the arrests that we have made,” said superintendent Minnaar.
The dilapidated buildings have also become a health hazard as some resemble dumping sites, with heaps and heaps of garbage strewn all over their vicinity.
In one of the buildings, illegal electricity connections were discovered, which put occupant’s lives at risk, with power lines hanging precariously on the stairs and within easy reach of people. Some of the flats were found to be too dirty for human habitation.