Cape Town - A member of the deputy minister of defence’s VIP protection unit, has been arrested for extortion of small business owners and people in Cape Town’s townships.
This was revealed by Police Minister Bheki Cele in which he said that more than 100 extortion cases have been opened since January last year, with 67 cases still under investigation and 106 people linked to extortion cases have been arrested and charged.
Among those arrested were two police officers, and a member of the protection unit from the office of deputy minister of defence, who were investigated and arrested for alleged extortion in and around Cape Town.
Cele, the provincial government and the City briefed the media at the police’s provincial office yesterday, on the workings of the Western Cape Extortion Steering Committee, which was established last year after concerns around extortion across communities grew.
Cele said while seven individuals were currently out on bail, 94 of those arrested remain in custody. He said at least 20 of the cases were opened in Khayelitsha while Nyanga policing cluster recorded 13 cases.
"One of the most prominent arrests is one of Shantel Reynecke who has received a very stiff sentence of over 20 years for extortion, kidnapping, human trafficking under sexual offence act and trafficking under human trafficking act as well as assault," he said.
Cele said investigations were ongoing and they were expecting more arrests to take place, and that the integrated approach and sharing of resources was due to those arrests.
Lewis Brown, a director in the Departments of Community Safety said one of the major challenges experienced was that the communities were not reporting cases related to extortion.
South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) provincial chairperson Bongikhaya Qhama said the issue with extortion was that it is part of organised crime, and that communities should work in unison to help fighting against extortion.
Qhama said they were very happy with the strides made by the minister in fighting against extortion. However, he said the committee should also look at how whistle-blowers can be protected.
"Because extortion works hand in hand with intimidation, and the threat of life, and we cannot run away from the fact that some of these extortionists work with the police who give away information on who reported them," said Qhama.
City's Safety and Security director, Robbie Roberts, said they have been having a "very good" relationship with the police in fighting against extortion.
Roberts said they have been part of the priority committee on a weekly basis, planning process, deployment process and are part of the execution process and were assisting in sharing information regarding their own structure within the City, and have assisted the police with regards to shadowing the investigations.