The spate of shootings at taverns in Soweto, Katlehong and Pietermaritzburg over the weekend does not appear to have been coordinated, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Monday.
Speaking to residents in Soweto, Cele said: “There is this thing [claims] that it might have been a coordinated weekend. We, as a police force, do not have this information… We had various problems, in particular that of Pietermaritzburg, that of Nomzamo and that of Katlehong. They happened in shebeens, but we believe they coincided rather than were coordinated.”
The shootings, which claimed at least 21 lives, also did not appear to be acts of terrorism, he said.
“We don’t believe it’s terrorism. It’s a brutal crime. It’s a violent crime… Terrorism is a very high level of crime. We as police need to have some evidence to say that – otherwise we will really speculate about a serious matter.”
< p>Residents complained about lack of police visibility and accused the police of not fighting crime in the area. Most complained that it was very dark in the area at night and that raids increased.
Wandile Rafuza said that guns rang like fireworks.
“When we see these incidents report to the police station, Orlando police say they don’t go to the settlement at night because they’re being shot at,” he said.
Residents called on Cele to be accountable and help stop crime in their area.
< p>Cele confirmed that most of those killed or wounded in the taverns were from KwaZulu-Natal.
“The large number come from there,” he said and described the events as a “bloody weekend”.
Gauteng Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela said: “[Police] intelligence is hard at work in the province. All of our operations are intelligence led. That doesn’t mean that intelligence doesn’t exist if you miss it.It does exist. It feeds us information.
“The more we reveal, the more we empower the criminals. They will forever counter anything we want to do, so we’d rather not share some of the tactical details,” he added.
Cele promised to increase police visibility for local residents and them would conduct operations looking for firearms in informal settlements.
“There will be no time given to anyone when we begin these operations. We’ll be going door to door and we’ll definitely be there.”
He was joined by Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale, Gauteng MEC for Community Security Faith Mazibuko, National Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Fannie Masemola, Mawela and the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse.
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