Cape Town - The murder of a Worcester Prison inmate last year has led to Western Cape police uncovering a network of street and jailed gangsters operating together and has culminated in the arrests of inmates and a suspected kingpin.
Police said the case, which fell under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, was the first of its kind in the Western Cape to involve both inmates and others on the street being arrested for the same crime.
Operation Combat – the Western Cape police team aimed at clamping down on gangsterism – is now not only targeting street gangs, but is going after the prison numbers gangs, the 26s, 27s and 28s.
On Sunday Jeremy Vearey, head of Operation Combat and the Mitchells Plain police cluster commander, said other cases that were yet to be brought to court involved another murder in Worcester Prison that occurred about two months after the initial killing.
He said the focus was also on a murder that happened in Pollsmoor Prison early last year. Three days ago Mark Petersen, 32, the alleged leader of the Junior Cisco Yakkies gang, was arrested in Worcester after an investigation of the initial killing in Worcester Prison, which happened last August.
Vearey said the murdered inmate, whose name he did not divulge, had been tortured to death in one of the cells.
“The victim was tortured with hot and cold water and stabbed several times. He was tortured for six or seven hours until he bled out,” he said.
Vearey said while probing the murder, officers had uncovered information that allegedly linked the incident to Petersen, a suspected drug dealer and Junior Cisco Yakkies leader.
Petersen and a woman who was with him at the time were arrested at his home in Avon Park in Worcester. He faces charges including murder, robbery and others under the act.
Items including hard drives, bank cards, tik lollies, documents and a black VW Golf were seized from his home. At another address in Sonja Street in Roodewal in Worcester, police confiscated a motorcycle.
Vearey said 16 other suspects, alleged 26s gang members, linked to the case had been in the awaiting-trial section of Worcester Prison at the time of the August murder. They remained in custody.
Vearey said two other suspects, brothers Rico, 32, and Martin Heskwa, 33, were on the run. He said the brothers were members of the 26s gang and were ranked highly as “inspectors 1”, “glas” or “mangatcha”.
Vearey explained that these terms formed part of the dialect of 26s in prison.
This dialect was known as “Salasiza”.
Vearey said the group allegedly linked to the Worcester Prison murder was suspected of being behind a number of violent incidents that had occurred in Worcester over the years.
The group is expected to appear in the Worcester Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.