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Extortion rings rule City’ streets

The City of Cape Town had refused to collect garbage in Samora Machel over the past few weeks. Picture: ANA Archives

The City of Cape Town had refused to collect garbage in Samora Machel over the past few weeks. Picture: ANA Archives

Published May 8, 2023


Cape Town - Communities continue to bear the brunt of extortion-related crimes, with garbage collection services temporarily halted in Samora Machel following the murder of a contract worker, and now resumed under a heavy law enforcement escort.

This follows allegations of extortion syndicates targeting solid waste subcontractors in the community.

The EFF in the Cape Metro said the City had refused to collect garbage in Samora Machel over the past few weeks.

EFF Cape Metro chairperson Ntsikelelo Tyandela said: “Solid waste management in the DA-led City of Cape Town, as the custodian and responsible for garbage collection and eradication of illegal dumping sites, must never blame its subcontractors and the subsequent claims of extortion for not providing service delivery for the people of Samora.

“The City has a duty and constitutional obligation to provide services to its residents. They must take full responsibility and desist from outsourcing their responsibilities.

“This includes the Water and Sanitation department responsible for the sewerage system. The community swims in a sea of faeces with kids playing with sewage. The Urban Mobility department responsible for storm water drains and potholes has dismally failed the residents of Samora.

“The Safety and Security Department is responsible for safeguarding the residents of the City, including those residing in Samora, the subcontractors and workers should have been insulated from criminality by the department but were left vulnerable to criminality and extortions. It is the character of the racist City of Cape Town to constantly shift blame.”

Ward councillor Lungisa Somdaka said allegations of extortion were reported to him about three weeks ago.

“A complaint came in about people who came and told the subcontractors who were doing garbage collection to pack up and leave if they don’t have their money. I received information that the garbage collection trucks have been chased away.

“This really affected us as a community, as we already have an illegal dumping problem, the situation worsened. A week later we held a meeting to plan the next step. We concluded that a police van should escort the garbage truck when it comes into our community,” Somdaka said.

In a statement, the City said: "Although there was a temporary disruption of refuse collection services in the area after the murder of a contract worker, services have since resumed under a heavy law enforcement escort.

“This will continue in the coming weeks, and more law enforcement officers will be trained to provide escorts so that services can take place in the area.”

The City appealed to the community to not resort to illegal dumping if there are delays in refuse collection.

“Please take your wheelie bins back on to the property overnight to prevent theft and then place them out again each following day until they are emptied.

“We call on anyone with information that can assist in bringing those responsible for the murder of the contractor and workers providing services in the area to please report this to the relevant authorities."

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said police stations were on hand to assist where contractors requested assistance with patrols and visibility in areas they rendered services in.

"It is on this basis that the SAPS in the province urges parties affected by crime or attempts to commit crime to inform the police. With reported incidents, more resources could be mobilised even from other law enforcement agencies.

“In the Samora Machel precinct, the local police station has recently been assisting contractors who had been rendering services in the area,” she said.

Meanwhile, four alleged extortionists are expected to appear in the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Police spokesperson Wesley Twigg said that members of the provincial serious violent crime unit and Kraaifontein police arrested two men and two women between the ages of 40 and 52 for extortion on Friday.

“The arrests followed after a case was registered by the complainant when the suspects went to his workplace and demanded that protection money must be paid on a monthly basis.

The detectives conducted an operation at the business premises in Kraaifontein and arrested the suspects,” he said.

Fransina Lukas, chairperson of the Western Cape Community Policing Forum (CPF) board, said that the arrests are welcome in the hope that convictions would follow.

“We do hope that they feel the full might of the law, as extortion is becoming a pandemic in the province and they now do it in a brazen manner with no regard. We are calling on other community members to ring the bell on these so that more can be arrested,” she said.

Cape Flats Safety Forum chairperson Abie Isaacs echoed Lukas’ sentiments.

“As the forum we welcome these arrests and hope that indeed they will be convicted. We are noticing that the police seem to be making a breakthrough in this type of crime category and we must applaud that,” he said.

Anyone with any information on crime can anonymously report by contacting Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or SMS Crime Line at 32211.

Cape Times