Johannesburg’s Intersections Gets Crazier Despite Operation ‘Ke Molao’


Some months ago, Operation “Ke Molao” was introduced in the freeways that encircles Johannesburg. It was said that undercover police officers will be deployed to battle crimes on notorious locations within Johannesburg’s intersections.

Allegedly, the people earning their living at the intersections via hawking, window washing, and begging often harbor criminal agendas as they do eventually engage in criminal activities too. As such “Ke Molao” was initiated  to primarily clear off and rid Johannesburg intersections of streets Urchins.

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To the motorists, “Ke Molao” was a positive development and was applauded. For finally, there is a solution to the nightmares they encounter daily. The criminal-minded nuisances that harass them with goods, pamphlets, unsolicited window washing and help requests will be removed, and normalcy restored.

Despite the endorsement of operation “Ke Molao” by motorist, the operation was heavily condemned as “problematic” by critics who believed a better solution was poverty eradication and grass-root development of policies that will aid the building and growing of inclusive economy. To them, the arrest, detention, and removal of the poor from the only home and income source they know without provision of alternatives in terms of welfare programs and creation of jobs, is a retrogressive law.

With the endorsements and counter-endorsements, “Ke Molao” eventually prevailed. It was hence expected that there will be a drastic reduction in the amount of hijack and thievery activities. And as expected, more than 450 people have already been removed from intersections since the introduction of “Ke Molao”. However, other reports coming in indicated that the same criminal activities “Ke Molao” was meant to war against are thriving even better than they were before war was declared on them.

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According to SABC, several videos showing smash and grab incidents in Johannesburg have gone viral, and this is happening Just as public outcry gets louder on the issue. A motorist reportedly cried that the “street urchins” should all be swept off Johannesburg’s intersections. In his words:

“It must come to an end, I don’t want them there, because they are crooks. I don’t want them,  I do not feel safety. I’m not feeling safety where there are people at the robot, the robots must be clean. Police must remove those tsotsi from the robots, we can’t trust them because they can break and take my car.”

Contrary to the motorist’s view, Johan Burger; a senior crime and justice researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), stressed that the “Ke Molao will never be sustainable unless it forms part of an overall government action, starting at local government level and going up to provincial and national level. There is the need to have an overall strategy that looks at the problem itself, that looks for other options for these vendors and business people…” he said.

From the on going, it seems South African law makers are, though not-unusual, clueless about how to effectively tackle crimes in Johannesburg’s intersections without necessarily depriving the poor of their income source. As they are apparently in short supply of ideas, your suggestions on effective measures to clean the mess in Johannesburg’s intersections will be highly welcomed. Go on and drop your suggestions in the comments section below. Help keep Johannesburg safe