Crack teamwork results in four arrests for Kopelowitz murder
A crack team of investigators and crime fighters working night and day led to the swift arrest of four suspects within three days following the tragic murder of father of four Mark Kopelowitz.
Although it gives little comfort to the mourners, there is a shred of consolation in knowing that a team of dedicated, hardworking, and experienced crime fighters worked for days on end, often through the night, to bring the suspects to book. The case is still open, and more suspects are at large.
Within minutes of the murder, which took place outside Kopelowitz’s jewellery store in the Centurion Mall last Monday, 11 October, police and security agents sprang into action. The Gauteng Serious and Violent Crimes Unit speedily mobilised a multidimensional team including Community Active Protection (CAP) and other specialised intelligence units such as a tactical response team, crime scene laboratories, local police in Lyttelton, the Flying Squad, the K9 unit, and Fidelity Specialised Services.
CAP Chief Executive Mark van Jaarsveld said his organisation became aware of the incident soon after it occurred.
“It came onto our radar quite quickly. We have a sophisticated open-source collection capability set up to collect crime information across provinces on social media. As soon as we learned about the case, we communicated with the Gauteng Serious and Violent Crimes Unit with which we have established a good working relationship going back many years.”
Immediately, CAP sent field intelligence agents to the scene to try to assist police with intelligence and evidence collection.
Said CAP Chief Operating Officer Sean Jammy, “Our crime analysts work on signal intelligence such as closed-circuit television footage and other intelligence to help track the suspects. We relay this information to the SAPS.
“We were able to track the suspects using an extensive informer network,” Van Jaarsveld said. “Our intelligence led us to two suspects in Hillbrow within seven hours of the murder.”
The suspects were found in the champagne-coloured Polo vehicle (used as a getaway car during the armed robbery) in Hillbrow at around 18:00.
Police were able to take the suspects down following intense surveillance, said Van Jaarsveld.
The team was then able to identify additional addresses and places of interest, and a third suspect was arrested after extensive surveillance the following day in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg. It’s understood he was driving a stolen vehicle which wasn’t used in the armed robbery.
“These were sophisticated criminals who knew what they were doing,” said Jammy. A fourth suspect was found later that day, at an address in Hillbrow, in possession of two guns which police believe were used in the crime.
“This is a joint-led investigation,” said Van Jaarsveld. “CAP is grateful to be able to assist police to bring criminals to book.
“We are a community, not-for-profit security organisation at the forefront of fighting crime and protecting our community. We are proud of having developed extensive capabilities not only to disrupt crime in the communities where we operate, but also to investigate it. And we have been able to develop strong relationships with the SAPS, which has helped us to target and hunt down criminals that have hurt our community.
“We are extremely thankful for the relationship we have developed over time with the Gauteng Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, which is made up of professionals who exemplify hard work and dedication.”
The same crack team has been responsible for making 262 arrests involving serious and violent crimes in the province this year, said Jammy.
“It’s mind bending to think of the impact this team is having on serious crime in the province. These criminals have been taken out of circulation.”
Since its inception, said Jammy, CAP has become a mean community funded crime fighting machine.
Van Jaarsveld who works with the police on the ground, said he had “worked in the trenches for years”.
“In order to fulfil CAP’s mandate, it’s vital to form lasting relationships based on trust, and I can’t do that behind a desk,” he said.
“We are at the forefront of protecting the Jewish community, and we have managed to develop serious expertise and relationships which we value.”