Gangs’ days numbered, warns general

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iol sa pic CW_Jeremy0 Independent Newspapers Major-General Jeremy Vearey, who heads Operation Combat File picture: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town -

The noose is tightening around the Cape’s most feared gangs as the police’s Operation Combat, fresh from its successful prosecution and jailing of Valhalla Park’s 28s gang leader Saliem John, prepares to prosecute its next targets in court.

Two members of the Luciano Boys gang, which operates in the Steenberg and Retreat areas, appeared in the Western Cape High Court this week.

They will appear in court again next month when they are to be tried under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act for gang association, in line with Operation Combat’s vow to eradicate gangs.

And, according to commander Major-General Jeremy Vearey, who has warned that the gangs’ days are numbered, the Luciano Boys case was made possible by the hard work of Steenberg police.

Vearey said Operation Combat had tentacles that stretch out from 18 police stations across the Western Cape, with detectives who carry out investigations under the umbrella of Operation Combat.

One of those police stations is Steenberg.

“The investigation was conducted by the Operation Combat team of Steenberg police… They made that success,” Vearey said, adding that Operation Combat provided operational support and co-ordinated the investigation.

According to the indictment in the case heading to the High Court next month, the two men, Enrico Jacobs and Peter Gertse, have been charged with participating in a criminal gang - The Luciano Boys - in Steenberg and Retreat, as well as with murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of arms and ammunition.

The Prevention of Organised Crime Act defines a criminal gang as “any formal or informal ongoing organisation, association or group of three or more persons, which has as one of its activities the commission of one or more criminal offences, which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol, and whose members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity”.

The indictment listed the gang’s activities as murder, attempted murder, the possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, malicious damage to property and drug trafficking.

The gang also has identifiable features, such as a specific greeting and distinct tattoos.

It is the State’s case that Jacobs and Gertse “wilfully aided and abetted criminal activities committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal gang”.

In addition, the State alleges that the men “performed any act which was aimed at causing, bringing about, promoting or contributing towards a pattern of gang activity”.

The State alleges The Luciano Boys partnered with The Corner Boys gang to target The Mongrels.

On March 30 last year, Jacobs and Gertse allegedly saw Marko Muller, Moenieba Cornelius and Lindsay Thomas Gora standing outside the Al Medina Cafe on the corner of Nyasa and Tana Roads in Retreat.

They had allegedly planned on shooting any members of The Mongrels they came across.

Jacobs and Gertse identified the trio as members of The Mongrels and opened fire before fleeing the scene.

Cornelius and Gora died in hospital, but Muller survived the gang attack.

They are to appear in court again on September 1, when they are expected to plead to the charges and the trial is due to start.

The case will come to court about four months after 28s gang leader Saliem John was jailed for life after he was convicted of murders that dated back to 2007, as well as charges of attempted murder and drug dealing.

John is the nephew of ganglord Colin Stanfield, who gained notoriety in Valhalla Park before he died of cancer in 2004.

And in February, the head of the Fancy Boys gang in Atlantis, Mallick Petersen, received three life sentences. He and 15 co-accused, who terrorised the West Coast community for more a decade, were each jailed for offences including murder, drug dealing and illegal firearms, committed between 2004 and 2010.

Their imprisonment shattered the gang’s structure and at the time Vearey warned that Operation Combat would continue to tackle gangs in the Western Cape and take more cases to the courts.

One of its pending cases is that of 28s gang leader Ralph Stanfield, his girlfriend Nicole Johnson, sister Francisca, and three police officers.

Stanfield, who is the nephew of deceased ganglord Colin Stanfield, faces charges of fraud, corruption and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition for allegedly running a fraudulent firearm licence racket, and supplying “top-of-the-range” assault rifles and handguns to gangs.

The case resumes in the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on September 4.

Last month Operation Combat also arrested five prison warders from Breede Valley Prison in Worcester for alleged criminal involvement with members of the Junior Cisko Yakkies (JCY) gang.

The arrests were made after an investigation of the gang following the murder of two prisoners - Andries Jaars and Lwando Mabona.

Both had been stabbed to death.

Thirty-two JCY members, some in prison and some not, were arrested for the murders. The investigation continued, resulting in the arrest of the warders last month.

- Sunday Argus



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