As South Africa gears up for the festive season, the nation braces itself for the annual spike in criminal activities that typically accompany this joyous time of the year. In a proactive bid to safeguard communities, the South African Police Service (SAPS) is launching a formidable strategy by deploying an additional ten thousand trained police officers across the country, commencing December 15th.
The decision to augment police presence during this period is part of a concerted effort by the police ministry to counteract the notorious surge in crime rates that traditionally plague the festive season. Minister of Police Bheki Cele reiterated the necessity of this initiative, emphasizing how criminals tend to exploit the celebratory atmosphere to perpetrate their illicit activities.
“With the holiday season upon us, criminals often take advantage of the festivities to refine their criminal operations,” stated Minister Bheki Cele. Recognizing this pattern, the government has expedited the graduation process of these newly trained officers who successfully completed the rigorous Basic Police Development Learning Program. This comprehensive training regimen encompasses essential components like street survival techniques, firearm proficiency, legal knowledge, and physical training.
Dubbed the 2023 Project 10K Police Recruitment Drive, this program is designed to fortify the visibility of law enforcement across all provinces. Minister Cele underlined the significance of enhanced police visibility in crime prevention, asserting, “High police visibility remains one of the most potent tools for SAPS in thwarting criminal activities.”
The strategic deployment of these officers will be concentrated in high-traffic areas, entertainment hubs, and zones susceptible to large crowds. Minister Cele emphasized the priority placed on bolstering security in these zones during the festive season to ensure public safety.
The acute shortage of police personnel, a concern acknowledged by the SAPS, necessitates this influx of officers not only during the holidays but throughout the year. Business Leadership South Africa, alongside Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA), attributes the surge in crime during this period to amplified cash volumes, leading to armed robberies, burglaries, and cash-in-transit heists. Moreover, the consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs further exacerbates the prevalence of violent crimes.
Security entities like Trellidor highlight crimes such as phone and bag snatching, as well as hijackings, as prevalent issues that escalate during the festive period.
In parallel to the intensified police deployment, SAPS has put into action the National Safer Festive Season Operational Plan. This comprehensive plan prioritizes various focal points, including combating gender-based violence and femicide (GBV+F), tackling serious and violent crimes like aggravated robberies, fortifying border security, enforcing by-laws, ensuring road safety, and curbing illegal mining activities.
As South Africa prepares to celebrate, the concerted efforts of law enforcement agencies aim not only to curb crime but to foster an environment where citizens can revel in the festivities with peace of mind. The collective vigilance of the authorities, in collaboration with communities, stands as a beacon of hope in safeguarding the nation during this festive season.