TACTICAL RESPONSE UNIT
City of Johannesburg unveils new crime-fighting outfit
Mere months after crime prevention wardens were appointed to help combat lawlessness in Gauteng, another crime-busting unit has been unveiled — this time in the City of Johannesburg.
A tactical unit to combat crime was launched on Friday, 10 November by the City of Johannesburg, bringing to four the number of crime-fighting agencies in the city. The other three are the SA Police Service (SAPS), the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and the crime prevention wardens, who operate across the province of Gauteng.
“The task of this new unit will be to combat and prevent crime. Our people are getting robbed and killed on a daily basis,” Gauteng MMC for community safety Dr Mgcini Tshwaku said.
“It is going to be very hectic. We will be called controversial. We are going to be called killers but the criminals have declared war on our people,” Tshwaku said.
Johannesburg Executive Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda said: “We are here today [to take] a step in the right direction. The MMC was able to identify a critical weakness that had to be filled, which is combating crime.”
He said the establishment of the new unit was a response to the war which had been waged by criminals on communities.
“The law enforcement of the state is being eroded every day, not only in the City of Johannesburg, but across South Africa,” Gwamanda said.
The new JMPD Tactical Response Unit (TRU) currently has 388 members, who are armed, just like any other police force.
“They are fully-fledged JMPD officers and their duties require them to carry firearms,” Tshwaku said.
The officers in the unit have undergone tactical and firearms training, which is ongoing, with more extensive training on the cards.
While JMPD officers are tasked with enforcing municipal bylaws and regulations, policing traffic and preventing crime, they “do not conduct criminal investigations, and any person arrested by metro police officers on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence must be handed over to a South African Police Service station as soon as possible,” Tshwaku said.
JMPD spokesperson Superintendent Xolani Fihla said, “There is a high number of criminal incidents in the city and they are rising.” These crimes included hijackings, kidnappings, cash-in-transit heists and illegal mining.
“This force has the skill and resilience to excel in their task and will advance the principles of justice, fairness and the greater good,” the acting chief of the JMPD, Angie Mokasi, said of the new tactical unit in Soweto on Friday.
Over the past few months, authorities in South Africa have upped the fight against crime a notch.
In April, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi unveiled 4,000 crime prevention wardens to patrol Gauteng streets and prevent crime.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Mayday, Mayday — 3,000 new crime fighters to hit the streets of Gauteng
A Moletsane resident, Thabo Modise (34) welcomed the deployment of the new crime-fighting unit, but said, “I hope they are sufficiently resourced because they will be useless if they have not been trained that taking bribes is not part of their jobs.” DM