Scores of curious onlookers gathered around as police cordoned off the Poek-se-Bos informal settlement near Turfhall Road on Friday, 14 July.
When People's Post arrived on the scene with members of the Athlone Police, members of the City Police's Special Task Unit, armed with R5-rifles, were guarding the entrances to the settlement.
The Athlone Police, Maitland Dog Unit, Area Crime Combating Unit and Metro Police joined forces for the operation, which forms part of the police's strategy to clamp down on crime in the area.
The head of the crime prevention unit of the Athlone police, Superintendent Edward Norman, says the raid follows numerous requests from the community for police to "clean up" the settlement. "The illegal sale of alcohol here is a problem for us because often people get drunk and this leads to abuse and domestic violence," says Superintendent Norman.
When police found a trailer stacked with beer, residents hurled abuse at them. "Give me a papsak! You're taking my alcohol away - what must I drink tonight?" one irate woman shouted as others echoed her sentiments.
Superintendent Norman says it was important for the police to organise a joint operation when they raided the settlement as they are often assaulted by residents when they go into the settlement in small numbers.
A total of 56 crates and 676 bottles of beer was confiscated during the raid and a docket for trading illegally in alcohol has been opened.
After seizing the alcohol, the police decided to move out of the settlement as the crowd was becoming unruly. Residents began moving towards the police vehicle that the beer had been loaded in and swore at the officers for spoiling their Friday evening.
"We came here to clamp down on serious crimes and we don't want to end up arresting people for petty things," Superintendent Norman says.
Captain Andre Venter, spokesperson for the Athlone Police Station, says the raid was "one of many to come". "The police are taking a zero tolerance approach to crime," he says. No arrests were made but the police continued patrolling the area until 04:00 to ensure that everything was in order.
Earlier that day, a Bridgetown resident was arrested for the possession of an illegal firearm when police conducted a stop-and-search operation in the Athlone area. In a separate incident on Thursday, one man was arrested after he stole goods off a delivery vehicle in the Athlone CBD.