Since the official launch of Operation Lockdown on 24 March 2016, those responsible for gang-related violence and criminality in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth are feeling the heat from law enforcement, says Port Elizabeth police.
The operation was launched by the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko and the Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane.
“Operation Lockdown is an unique policing intervention aimed at stabilizing affected areas and combatting gang-related violence and criminal activity in the precincts of Bethelsdorp and Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth. The primary objective of this multi-disciplinary action is to proactively curb gangsterism in those areas,” said police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu.
“Since the launch of the operation, the intervention teams have worked tirelessly to ensure that the citizens in these affected areas ARE and FEEL safe. SAPS management is confident that this multi-disciplinary approach is making remarkable in roads in the arrest and conviction of suspects and the seizure of illicit goods, including unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
“The gangsters in the areas are keenly aware of the presence of the Operation Lockdown members and slowly the tide against their criminal activities is turning. They are beginning to feel the “heat’ and the communities assistance is indicative that they are fed up and want to see that these criminals are put behind bars. The high police visibility and stop-and-search operations have contributed to peace and stability in certain areas.”
Colonel Naidu said that to date, the following arrests and convictions were reported :
- Since March 2016, 13 convictions were secured for serious crimes and these include firearm related cases, attempted murder, murder, house robbery and kidnapping. These cases were investigated by the Gang Task team assigned to Operation Lockdown.
- There were also convictions in 20 cases relating to the possession of /dealing in drugs (Mandrax, heroin, dagga and tik). In all of these cases the accused had the option of paying fines or facing imprisonment.
- Over 275 arrests were made in these two areas for crimes relating to possession of /dealing in drugs, murder, attempted murder, drunken driving, robbery , illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of ammunition.
- Twenty eight (28) firearms (homemade, pistols, revolvers) were confiscated.
- The distribution and sale of drugs are major contributory factors to gang violence which inevitably would affect and compromise the security and safety of innocent community members. The SAPS is committed to ensuring that these criminals have no safe haven by enforcing the laws, protecting the people of Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp and we will not hesitate to punish those who bring harm and fear to innocent people. It is only a matter of time before their number is up.
Some of the successful convictions are highlighted below:
GANGSTERS CONVICTED AND SENTENCED : PORT ELIZABETH
Three gangsters affiliated to the Upstand Dogs were sentenced on the morning of 31 March, in the Port Elizabeth High Court, for various charges after they were arrested for a housebreaking, which took place on 1 June 2013 in Seaview Port Elizabeth.
“On 1 June 2013, during the early hours of the morning, Cedric Johnson(29), Rodwell Peters(31), Oscar Alexander(31) and Allan De Sousa ( age unknown) broke into a house in Seaview. The complainant (37 years ) was threatened at gunpoint and tied up,” described Colonel Naidu.
“The woman managed to press the panic button and alerted the security company. Within minutes, a security guard responded and saw the suspects in the house. The guard kicked opened the door and one of the accused pointed a firearm at him. The guard fired at the accused. Allan De Sousa was fatally injured. The three accused were arrested. Rodwell Peters was shot three times.”
The accused remained in custody until the finalisation of the case. They were sentenced as follows :
Cedric Johnson: Housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery: 15 years;
Kidnapping: 5 years;
Unlawful possession of firearm: 3 years; and
Murder: 15 years.
The kidnapping, unlawful possession of firearm and 5 years of the murder sentence will run concurrently with the housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery sentence. Johnson will thus serve 25 years in prison.
Rodwell Stanton Peters: Housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery: 15 years;
Kidnapping: 5 years; and
Murder: 15 years.
The kidnapping and 5 years of the murder sentence will run concurrently with the housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery sentence. Peters will serve an effective 25 years in prison.
Oscar Alexander: Housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery: 15 years;
Kidnapping: 5 years; and
Murder: 15 years.
The kidnapping and 5 years of the murder sentence will run concurrently with the housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery sentence. Alexander will serve an effective 25 years in prison.
“Although the accused did not shoot their accomplice De Sousa, the judge found that the fact that they had made a joint decision to rob the complainant while armed with a firearm they foresaw the possibility that someone could be shot,” said Colonel Naidu.
Meanwhile, a 17 year-old (15 years at the time of the offence) was sentenced in March 2016 in the Port Elizabeth regional court for attempted murder, possession of firearm and possession of ammunition.
“On Wednesday, 14 May 2014, the accused was seen running near the Spar in Gelvandale and opened fire at the complainant and his wife. The complainant was walking to his vehicle after exiting the Spar. During the shooting , the complainant’s vehicle, another vehicle and the window of a nearby KFC was damaged. No person was injured,” said Colonel Naidu.
“Gelvandale police immediately responded and two suspects were seen running towards Stanford Road. The accused threw the firearm on the ground while fleeing. Within 10 minutes of the incident, the teenager was arrested.
“On 4 March 2016, he was found guilty and sentenced as follows : Attempted murder – 5 years imprisonment; attempted murder – three years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years; Possession of firearm – Two years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years and possession of ammunition – one year wholly suspended for five years. The accused will serve an effective 5 years in prison.”
In another case, murder accused, Serano Damons, 24 years old is serving an effective 28 years and 6 months out of his 36 years sentence in prison.
“On 22 March 2016, Damons was sentenced in the Port Elizabeth Regional court on various charges.”
It is alleged that on 1 December 2013, one of his victims, Hendrik Lucas, 35 years old at the time and his two friends stopped in Deverill Road Gelvandale as their vehicle stalled. While attempting to fix it, Damons approached them and started insulting and threatening them. Damons then walked away and returned with a firearm and started shooting. Lucas was shot in his stomach and died in hospital. The incident was gang related.
“Damons was arrested a month later by the investigating officer, D/Constable Peter Classen. He was seen walking with his girlfriend in New Brighton. He remained in custody until the finalisation of the case,” described Colonel Naidu.
He was found guilty and sentenced on the following charges:
- Attempted Murder – five (5) years imprisonment
- Murder – fifteen (15) years imprisonment
- Illegal possession of firearm – fifteen (15) years imprisonment
- Illegal possession of ammunition – one (1) year imprisonment
The attempted murder and the illegal possession of ammunition as well as half of the sentence for the illegal possession of firearm case will run concurrently with the murder sentence.
“The convictions result in justice for the victims concerned and the community feel safer when perpetrators are incarcerated . The lengthy sentences augur very well for the police because it shows that through dedication and thorough investigation of cases, perpetrators are guaranteed long term imprisonment,” said Colonel Naidu.
“We continue to urge the communities to work with the police and to report criminal activity in their areas. Information may be reported anonymously on 08600 10111 or to Colonel Ralane on 082 442 1663. All information reported to police will be treated as strictly confidential. Making our communities drug and gang free is something we need to work on together.”