Khayelitsha takes stand against extortion, forum tries to free community from grip of fear
Cape Town - The Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) held a prayer service in the area, calling for an end to gang-related extortion.
KDF chairperson Nditini Tyhido said they had received numerous complaints from residents about alleged threats and intimidation to pay extortion money.
“We have some cases where they are made to pay or forced to pay for TVs that they own in their houses. Demands are also made to people who are going to or coming from work. The point we are trying to make is that this should come to an end, the people of Khayelitsha must get back their streets.
“We requested the leadership of the religious fraternity in Khayelitsha to lead. As we respond to this, we want to be responsible for our response so that we are able to mobilise the community against this without instigating violence. We are also freeing the people of Khayelitsha from the grip of fear. What these people do is that they use fear to get money from the people,” said Tyhido.
A struggling car-wash owner says he has been the victim of gang-related extortion for more than a year, and it was now impacting on his family.
The owner, who spoke on condition that he remain anonymous, said businesses could no longer take it.
“I used to pay protection money every week, now I pay monthly. I pay almost half of the money I make a month and it is seriously stressing me out. I have children who need to be taken care of.
“If you miss the date on which to pay, they come to your house and take things or shoot you. For the sake of my family I always pay on time. The government should do something about this before it gets out of hand. My fear is that this extortion will grow. As the residents of Khayelitsha we are fed-up and we will fight this till the end. I pay thousands of rand just for protection.”
Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa was also in attendance, and said the government would increase police visibility.
He said it was not the first time this situation had taken place in Khayelitsha.
“The people who commit these kinds of crimes are known by the community. One of the remarks made here was that the government should increase police visibility and there was a suggestion that we must bring the army. I don’t think we have reached that level, where crime is out of control. The issue of increasing police is what the government will consider. The element of community mobilisation is a very important one,” he said.