16 January 2013
The South African Police Service (SAPS) made 67 000 arrests around the country over the festive season, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The arrests – for crimes ranging from murder, robbery and rape to fraud, shoplifting and driving under the influence – took place during the course of a festive season safety campaign which began on 15 October and will officially end on 31 January.
A total of 704 were arrested for public violence. “We respect the right of citizens to protest as that is a constitutionally enshrined right and we have no intention to tamper with these rights,” Mthethwa said.
“We, however, firmly oppose any violent destruction of property, intimidation and murder of innocent people, while these criminal acts are being disguised and justified as public protests.”
Lawlessness on the country’s roads was responsible for a high number of arrests, with crimes ranging from speeding to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
“We remain very concerned about the lack of adherence to the rules of the road, which have resulted in fatalities and loss of lives,” the minister said said.
“We arrested 2 751 suspects for driving under the influence, which is exceptionally high.”
According to Transport Minister Ben Martins, approximately 1 465 South Africans lost their lives on the country’s roads over the festive season.
Stolen vehicles were also a problem, and Mthethwa said the police had confiscated 451 vehicles nationally, with 296 suspects arrested for theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles.
In addition, he said, 51 191 fines were issued for offences ranging from traffic violations to unlawfully running liquor outlets.
Illegal firearms and ammunition were also confiscated, with the police finding 721 guns and 7 638 rounds of ammunition, including nine commercial explosives.
Drugs also posed a threat, but the arrest of 8 889 suspects for drug-related crimes helped put a dent in the scourge.
“We confiscated 6-million grams of dagga, 2 832 grams of cocaine, 4 225 grams of nyaope [a mixture of dagga and cheap heroin] and 2 551 grams of tik [crystal methamphetamine].”
From the start of the campaign, about 1 477 901 people 501 373 vehicles were searched, with 3 614 roadblocks conducted.