Cape Town Central police have embarked on a project to round up all the suspects flagged as wanted on their books.
Spokesperson Captain Ezra October, said the instruction came from the provincial commissioner’s office.
“Crime moves around, so each police station has to follow up on how many wanted suspects they have. We now have to work on rounding them up, and then profiling the wanted person so that if they are flagged as wanted at another police station, we can notify them.”
At Cape Town Central police station, there are 1 580 wanted people, and police say the number increases almost daily.
Warrant Officer Lionel du Plessis of the tracing team, a group of four officers who work to arrest wanted persons, said this was because suspects do not appear in court on their given dates, and a warrant is then issued for them.
Other reasons people are wanted is because their bail or parole conditions were not adhered to.
Warrant Officer Du Plessis said wanted people were circulated through the police system nationally through a fingerprint system.
“If suspects are rearrested and their fingerprints are taken, they will flag as wanted, and the station where they are listed as wanted will be notified. The suspect will then have to appear in court on the charges they were wanted for.”
The tracing team at Central SAPS is now working with a backlog and going out to search for these people.
“We receive a list of people and the team goes out to the address mentioned in the docket to find the person. Most of the time, these people are strollers. Because they know they have not appeared for their dates, they leave home and wonder around on the streets,” said Warrant Officer Du Plessis.
He said sometimes they found that suspects are already in prison and were rearrested there, or they were in hospital, or deceased. In the case that the suspect is deceased, the information is stored into a file and the case is finalised.
The Cape Town Central police often have operations during which they stop and search people, profile them, and use a mobile fingerprint device, called PIVA, to check if they are wanted.
“We’ve caught many wanted people with the PIVA – most of them being repeat offenders. The idea is that people who come to commit crime do it as a job, so they will do it again. For instance, if you steal cars, it’s what you do, so you will come back to steal cars if you are successful,” said Captain October.
Warrant Officer Du Plessis said most wanted people in the CBD were suspected of shoplifting or being part of drug-related crime.
“Fraud is also a big issue for us, as is theft out of motor vehicle – Cape Town Central SAPS has the most cases in the country because of the volumes of people who come to the CBD every day.”
With regard to identikits, Warrant Officer Du Plessis said while they have had successes, it is easier to make a match with fingerprints.
Identikits are drawn up when a person is a victim of crime, and they try to identify or recreate the suspect by looking through a book of suspects and then identifying features which are similar to the suspect.
“People who are victims of crime normally say ‘it happened so fast, I can’t say what the person looks like’, but when they see the suspect again, they are able to recognise them.
“Victims are also sometimes so shaken by the crime that they are unable to ascertain what the person looks like, so we try to recreate the person’s face with features that the victim remembers. While identikits may not be 100 percent accurate, fingerprints are a sure thing – it is always accurate.”
The Cape Town Central police needs your help to find these suspects wanted for various crimes in the city centre:
Anyone with information can contact Cape Town Central Police Detective Warrant Officer Lionel Du Plessis at 078 116 8371 or the Cape Town Operational Room at 021 467 8006/7.