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Speaker notes of the Minister General Bheki Cele at the Festive Season media briefing



Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The festive season is firmly on the horizon and as the country winds down towards the holiday season;

We found it important to update the citizens of the country on law enforcement related matters.

The festive season is a period largely characterized by festivities and increased migration of people within and across our borders. 

With just 15 days to go before Christmas Day, the Police Ministry and SAPS management would like to outright assure the nation; that all hands are on deck as the police, to protect citizens and their properties.

The holiday season is also a time where criminals sharpen and refine their operations, taking advantage of the festive mood.

We too as the country’s law enforcement have and continue to upscale our responses to crime this holiday season and beyond.

Through our bold efforts and our decisive policing approach to fighting crime, police operations continue to ensure that we get a grip on serious and violent crime in the country.

In the coming days, the bite of the SAPS will be stronger, as we welcome in the police service, 10 thousand NEW officers.

The 2023 Project 10K police recruitment drive is a direct response to the call from His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to strengthen our policing capacity and enhance police visibility.

The SAPS recruitment office successfully processed 600 thousand of these applications and embarked on a rigorous recruitment drive.

We are now in the second phase of enlisting 10 000 police officers, who will be graduating from various police academies throughout the country in the coming week. 

This means there will be TEN THOUSAND more boots on the ground come the 15th of December, when the last passing out parade takes place in Tshwane. 

Police trainees have been for the past months stationed at police academies across the country.

They have been hard at work in perfecting street survival courses, firearm, law and physical training during their completion of the Basic Police Development Learning Program.

We have no doubt, the new members will provide a much needed boost to the current policing numbers and amplify our law enforcing efforts.

These officers will be deployed to sanitize the streets and increase the footprint of the police in all nine provinces. 

Their deployment will be prioritised, especially in high crowd zones and areas of entertainment and leisure, this holiday season.

As the Ministry, we have always maintained that high police visibility remains one of the most powerful arsenals for the SAPS, in the prevention of crime.

Over time and with guidance, these officers will no doubt be a valuable addition to the service and build on to the capacity of the service.



Members of the media,

The men and women in blue are doubling up efforts to tackle and squash the enemy of crime, lurking in our streets and in our communities.

The Safer Festive Season police operations and unique provincially led police interventions are running concurrently with OPERATION SHANELA

I am sure by now you are all aware of OPERATION SHANELA which is proving to be a significant crime combatting strategy that is increasingly yielding the desired results on a daily basis.

Police in all provinces are gaining ground on crime and organized criminality and this has been reflected in our last released crime statistics.

Since its inception on 08 May 2023, criminal individuals and syndicates are increasingly being dealt a heavy blow by the SAPS, through OPERATION SHANELA.

In the past SIX months, these high-density operations have resulted in the arrest of over 259 000 (259 793) suspects for various crimes across the country.

The chunk of the arrests took place in the provinces of the Western Cape with 64 171arrested suspects, followed by  Gauteng with 48 917 arrests while SAPS in KZN arrested a total of 37 769 in the past six months.



Over 3 200 firearms including 2 500 handguns and 300 rifles have been taken off the streets through OPERATION SHENELA.

More than 49 000 rounds of different variations of ammunition have also been seized by hardworking officers in blue.

Over and above removing firearms that were in the wrong hands, police continue to make inroads in the tracing and returning stolen properties.

Through OPERATION SHANELA, over one thousand 700  (1717) hijacked or stolen vehicles have been recovered from May to date.



Fellow South Africans

Under the theme “Combating crime through decisive police action and robust community involvement” 

The SAPS National Safer Festive Season Operations, which kicked off on the 13th of October, are in full swing.


Te Safer Festive Season Operational Plan is characterized by seven focus areas, namely;

·      GBV+F

·      Combatting of serious and violent crime such as aggravated robberies.

·      Border security

·      Strengthening by-laws

·      Road safety, as well as illegal mining.




Ladies and gentlemen,

Today marks the end of the 16 days of activism of no violence against women and children.

GBV+Femicide related crimes remains a priority for the SAPS and officers are urged to continue to improve their services to victims and survivors of these crimes.

However, the SAPS and Ministry remains deeply concerned on the number of women, children and vulnerable groups who continue to lose their lives at the hands of callous criminals.

Just yesterday, we attended the funeral service of 16-year-old Machaka Radebe in Bloemfontein.

Radebe was the fourth young female to go missing in Bloemfontein in the past month.

28-year-old Kelebogile Seramone’s body was found on the 23rd of October 2023 while 23 year old Lerato Masiu and 22 year old Mamello Motaung are still missing.

The Provincial Commissioner of the Free State, has assembled a dedicated team of detectives to investigate all these cases and has mobilised all the necessary resources and intensified all efforts to apprehend the killers and kidnappers of these young women.

Investigations are supported by national resources.

It is however going to take all of us working together; families, law enforcement, civil society groupings, the clergy, the business community, and everyone in the country to win this fight on GBV+F. 

We are therefore calling upon everyone in this country, to work together with the police to help pin down these heartless criminals.  

When you SEE something, SAY something!

The SAPS continues to strengthen efforts of tracing and arresting perpetrators of GBV+F crimes and removing them from society by securing lengthy jail terms for them.

Since the beginning of this financial year, the SAPS has secured 247 life imprisonment for more than 187 accused of GBVF crimes.

During the same period, 193 accused were sentenced to 20 years and above imprisonment for GBVF related crimes. 

A total of 57 serial rapists were sentenced to a collective 1 674 years imprisonment.



Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Drugs continue to destroy lives and livelihoods in our communities.

It is on this score that the SAPS is tightening its responses and on  several occasions has pounced on ruthless drug syndicates who are hell-bent on trafficking drugs through borders and into our shores.

With the influx of narcotics into our shores, the SAPS is further enhancing its level of cooperation and information sharing on drugs and cross border collaboration against crime.

This point was further amplified during the INTERPOL 91st Annual General Assembly hosted in Vienna, Austria. 

The South African police delegation attended the AGM, consisting of senior managers of key divisions in the SAPS and was led by myself and the National Commissioner.

The AGM also presented an opportunity for the delegation to meet with international counterparts to discuss further collaboration on countering international crime syndicates.

At the same time, we continue to also intensify operations at our ports of entry to ensure that we prevent and combat the influx of illegal and unwanted persons into the country as well as put a stop to the flow of illicit goods. 

The latest drug busts and arrest of those behind trafficking of persons bears testament to this.

Just this week alone, police have seized R151 million rand worth of cocaine at the Durban Harbour. 

This is the third major drug bust at this port.

In October, police also seized 150 million rand worth of cocaine in separate incidents. 

These drugs were mostly found packaged in meat boxes and disguised as such. 

In the same week, major consignment of cocaine worth R65 million was also seized at the PE seaport in Gqeberha on the 3rd of November.

While arrests are yet to be made, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) is investigating the source and destination of the drugs. 

A laboratory operating from a house producing an alcoholic spirit  labeled as Smirnoff 1818 was dismantled in KZN in Emanzimtoti township of Kwa Makhutha.

It is therefore encouraging that 13 drug laboratories were dismantled in Gauteng, North West and Western Cape since the start of this financial year.


It is clear, the SAPS intelligence operators are not sleeping on the job and are well equipped and trained to sniff out these drugs, putting them one step ahead of these international crime syndicates.

Earlier this week, police also pounced on a local source of these dangerous drugs.

SAPS in Gauteng uncovered a drug manufacturing lab cultivating “magic mushrooms” in Queenswood, Pretoria where a 52-year-old man was arrested and will appear on Monday before the Pretoria Magistrates Court for his role in the crime.



The festive season is characterized, by increased migration of people across our borders. 

Police remain on high alert in a bid to put a stop to the influx of illegal and unwanted persons into the country.

Limpopo SAPS intercepted a minibus taxis and bakkies carrying more than 130 undocumented nationals from Zimbabwe, heading to Polokwane on Thursday evening. 

At least 73 children between the ages of 6 months old and 17 years of age were among the occupants.

Police seized the eleven minibus taxis and bakkies that were used as a mode of transport.

The drivers of these vehicles are amongst those arrested. 

On Wednesday, a multidisciplinary team from Kimberley intercepted a bus that was travelling from Pretoria to Cape Town with 14 undocumented children between the ages of 6 and 14 years.

Police where alerted to this incident by a vigilant passenger who suspected the children were being trafficked. 

Two Zimbabwean nationals were arrested and have already appeared before the Kimberley Magistrate Court on a charge of trafficking of persons. 

In Gauteng, 33 human trafficking victims who were found locked up in a room in Benoni were rescued in the past week, this took place when police were tracing a kidnapped foreign national, when the 33 men were discovered.

 One suspect has been arrested. 



The SAPS has declared war on anyone or any groupings who opt to use violence for their criminal gains.

We know that around the Festive Season, criminals will go to any lengths to get their hands on cash. 

Cash in Transit ambushes tend to increase during this time.

In response to these criminal opportunistic acts, the SAPS has established teams in each province to prevent and combat cash-in-transit robberies. 

It must be noted that in recent months and weeks, our members have done exceptionally well in terms of intercepting these criminals at addresses utilised by these gangs as ‘safe houses’ before the robberies would unfold. 

In our most recent success, members of the DPCI intercepted a syndicate of six criminals who followed victims from the bank and robbed them of their cash.

The syndicate was operating in Gauteng and Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Five of the suspects were fatally wounded during a shoot-out with police as they were being intercepted on the N14 highway. 

At the time, the suspects were allegedly on-route to commit a robbery in Carletonville. One female suspect was arrested.

We are seeing an emerging trend of women who are increasingly found operating in criminal groups involved in serious violent crimes.

During these criminal takedown operations, police are often met with dangerous criminals armed with high caliber firearms.

Our members are left with no choice but to defend themselves and the communities they serve. 

Over 62 hardened criminals were killed during shoot-out with police in the past six months.

It goes without saying that when criminals confront police, we will respond accordingly. 

Regrettably, we have lost some of our own during these shoot-outs and may their souls rest in peace, police ARE going toe-to-toe with criminals and police ARE coming out victorious.

In the last eight months, police have arrested more than 75 wanted CIT suspects. 

Prince Mdluli, Doctor Mbuyani, Cargo Matimane and Vicky Tabela and Justice Ngana are some of those behind bars.

The arrests were made during foiled CIT attempts, during the commission of these crimes and during targeted tracing operations.  



Fellow South Africans, 

This government is not backing down in the fight against those who want to destabilize the country’s energy supply.

The NATJOINTS energy safety and security work stream that was established to tackle crime and corruption related matters hampering the mandate of Eskom, also continues to register commendable progress. 

The work stream activities has led to significant successes but more importantly has impacted positively on load shedding that can be attributed to theft and provision of sub-standard coal and the tampering of critical infrastructure. 

Amongst the successes achieved by the work stream include the arrest of 207 suspects from April this year and the closure of 63 unregulated coal yards. 

Mining equipment worth R180 million as well as R12 million worth of coal has been seized.

Two key preservation orders were secured amounting to R198 million and R1.5 billion respectively.

In October 2023, a massive inter-governmental search and seizure operation led by this priority committee was conducted in five provinces. 

The target was a sophisticated criminal syndicate of alleged coal smugglers who played a major role in exacerbating the energy crisis and load shedding. 

SARS was the lead agency in this operation and the targets included former Eskom employees who facilitated procurement fraud, as well as individuals involved in the diversion of high-grade coal.

This syndicate, which consists of local and foreign nationals, was found to be non-compliant with tax acts.

The syndicate was found to have cost R500 million of revenue loss to the fiscus for non-registration for income, failure to submit tax returns, under-declaration of income and making false submissions to SARS. 



Ladies and Gentlemen,

This administration has also taken a tough stance and continues to take tough action on illegal mining activities.

Through NATJOINTS we continue to descend on illegal mining hotspots in six provinces. 

A number of illegal mining equipment continue to be confiscated such as generators, digging tools and even firearms. 

In the past year over 4 thousand illegal mining suspects have been arrested.

In our latest major takedown, nine days ago on the 1st of December, 117 illegal miners were arrested in Primrose Gauteng.

All these illegal miners are still in police custody and their equipment were seized. 

On the same day in the North West, 13 illegal miners were arrested by a multidisciplinary operation at a disused Gold mine in Klerksdorp.

In another operation in Sabie Mpumalanga, police have this week arrested eleven undocumented nationals believed to be involved in illegal mining operations. 

All eleven will appear before the Sabie Magistrates Court on Monday for being in the country illegally and for their role in illegal mining activities.

Police operations don’t end on the low level role-players in the mining value chain, the DPCI arrested three suspects in Parys exchanging gold for cash between Free State and Gauteng.

In the same operation, nine nuggets of gold worth R3 million and R4 million in cash as well as four vehicles were also seized.



Our National Task Team assigned to clamp down on counterfeit goods continues to confiscate illicit goods that are costing the country billions in loss of revenue. 

This week, a 53-year-old shop owner in Pretoria was arrested after he was found to be selling expired food and health products. 

A number of operations have been held between Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, where goods worth R389 million rand were seized from July to date. 

R1,2 million in cash and 30 vehicles were also seized in these operations. 

In one major operation in the Eastern Cape, a Somalian national was arrested and counterfeit products including medication to the value of R14 million were seized in Gelvandale.

In Gauteng in the JHB CBD, 40 illegal nationals were arrested and R5 million worth of counterfeit goods were seized. 

In the Pretoria CBD commonly known as Marabstad, counterfeit worth R13,7 million was seized and in the Western Cape more than R75 million worth of counterfeit goods were seized.

In November, police also intercepted a truck loaded with illicit cigarettes worth R22 million in the Western Cape. Two suspects were arrested at the scene.

In the Northern Cape, a storage container facility was raided and R10 million worth of illicit cigarettes were also seized.


Members of the media,

These are just some of the highlights of recent successes that have been recorded in recent weeks.

The breakthroughs are as a result of sharpened intelligence, broader collaboration with sister departments, state owned enterprises and the SAPS teaming up and working closely with private security companies and the broader community.

Tackling crime head-on can never be a solo mission and we value the working relationships that are each day producing fruitful results.



The National Task Team responsible for investigating and arresting those responsible for murder and attempted murder cases at the University of Fort Hare continue to effect arrests. The team has effected 10 arrests including former and current serving employees of the University from April to date. 

The team cannot rule out the possibility of effecting more arrests as investigations continue.   


In conclusion, 

As the country settles into the festive season, we want to take this opportunity to wish South Africans and all those who live within our borders a restful and safe festive season.

As the SAPS, we have made our intentions clear on criminality and police are ready to deal with any and every eventuality.

Sithi, “Ulibambe lingashoni”

Police will root out criminality, wherever it may hide.

This Police Ministry as well as the SAPS management led by the National Commissioner will be embarking on the annual safer festive season inspection tour across all provinces.

We will be joining thousands of our police officers on the ground at public spaces such as shopping malls, taxi ranks, beaches, parks and other public gathering areas and centers of activities and areas of entertainment.

We also will be visiting roadblocks, ports of entry and targeted police operations to ensure that safety and security remains paramount during this busy festive period.

This year’s tour will be anchored around high-density police operations in communities with high crime volumes.

While police will be saturating the streets in their numbers as they prevent and act swiftly on crime. 

We also caution all those who will be sharing their stokvel dividends to refrain from carrying large amounts of money as criminals usually target these unsuspecting victims and rob them off their hard earned money.

We are calling on liquor traders to trade responsibility.

We are warning those who are trading illegally and their establishment will be shut down and the liquor will be confiscated.

Liquor traders must be fully compliant, this is a non negotiable.

We caution you all to be extra vigilant of your surroundings and report any suspicious activities to law enforcement. 

Work with the police and the police will work with you.