Delayed reaction and intelligence failure hamper effective police operations
29 November 2015
By: Vanessa Burger
In a follow up to last Wednesday’s tipoff regarding the Glebelands renegade cop’s reported delivery of firearms to a Block 42 top floor room, where the cop (a Block 52 neighbour of the late warlord) and his new sidekick from the same building (who has apparently taken over the duties of ‘collection coordinator’ after the warlord’s death), were witnessed moving a large quantity of rifles and handguns from Block 48 to Block 42.
This room is now reportedly occupied by the dodgy cop’s ‘bodyguard’, an individual allegedly linked, together with the late warlord’s younger brother, to several hijackings in KwaMakutha – cases which are currently in progress at Durban and Chatsworth Magistrate’s Courts.
Unfortunately it would appear however, that senior SAPS officers in charge of Glebelands operations failed to take the tipoff seriously. A reaction unit was only deployed to raid the room in question on Friday – two days after the incident had been reported – giving the perpetrators ample time to redistribute their illicit hardware.
Similarly, it seems Friday’s operation also suffered acute intelligence failure, when during the raid, the police reportedly headed straight past the cop’s bodyguard on their way to search his room. It appears officers had not been briefed on the identify of the individual concerned, allowing him to make good his escape, first at a slow walk, then at a run in the opposite direction. It would seem, as crime intelligence is increasingly focused on matters political and service delivery protest-related, that standard intelligence-driven, anti-crime operations are given a back seat. The continued flood of illegal guns and high profile hit squad activity at Glebelands raises questions regarding the local intelligence unit’s loyalties, willingness and ability to perform even rudimentary crime syndicate infiltration and information gathering and questions the national organized crime unit’s continued absence from what is clearly one of KwaZulu-Natal’s worst crime hotspots.
Although it has not been confirmed if the police discovered any firearms during Friday’s raid, as heavy firing was heard at around 1am this morning near Blocks 42, 45 and later at Block 52 – the thugs were allegedly testing their new toys – it would appear unlikely. In the forty-eight hours it took police to respond a crucial opportunity to deal conclusively with hostel hitmen, their alleged killer cop leader, and the extortion racket was lost. A lot can happen in two days at Glebe – political will, it seems, will always find a way.
The former resident of the current Block 42 arms cache – a traditional healer – was evicted in April this year after being petrol bombed and his belongings thrown from the window and later torched behind the block. According to community members present at the scene, attending Umlazi SAPS officers had reportedly stood by and watched the inferno, citing safety concerns and lack of backup as justification for their failure to intervene. Thugs had seemingly disconnected the building’s electricity supply sometime earlier, in a preemptive measure to ensure maximum fear and confusion. While later surveying the gutted remains of his home, Umlazi SAPS officers informed the traditional healer, that it would indeed be best for him to find somewhere else to stay, as they could not protect him.
In separate but also Glebelands-hitmen-related matters, the late warlord’s younger brother will appear in court tomorrow (30 November), the same day as the accused in the Lamontville taxi boss hit which occurred this year on 11 June. In light of rumours that ‘collections’ over the past week – the biggest ever yet and estimated to have squeezed as much as R1.5 million from poor, mostly unemployed hostel dwellers – may be used to bribe the prosecutors and magistrates dealing with these cases, it will be interesting to see how things pan out in court.
At Glebelands, the independence of the criminal justice system remains as much of a dirty joke as the SAPS commitment to “Batho Pele” – it’s simply all about the money.