Links between gangs and cops laid bare in judgment

Western Cape High Court Judge Daniel Thulare. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Western Cape High Court Judge Daniel Thulare. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 30, 2023


Alleged links between some police officers and gangsters were once again detailed in a recent Western Cape High Court judgment involving two men convicted of killing seven people in a Khayelitsha mass shooting.

The details emerged when Judge Daniel Thulare convicted Gcinithemba Beja and Fundile Maseti on seven counts of murder and three attempted murder charges following a shooting at a tavern in Site B, Khayelitsha, in March 2020.

The judgment details how a witness during the trial testified that many people knew and informed the police that the two were (protection) fee collectors from businesspeople.

“However, the cases got cold as some people were scared for their lives to make formal statements to the police.

It has to be mentioned that there were witnesses who made statements to the police in this matter, and who did not come to testify expressing fear for their lives, to the police,” said Judge Thulare.

The judgment noted that Mr X, a state witness, “saw some of the police members who he knew as those who informed The Guptas gang (to which the two apparently belonged), keeping themselves busy around him and the detective when he and others were at the police station to report what they saw”.

“This explained why members of the community did not trust members of the SAPS in Khayelitsha. It is the reason why other witnesses who initially went with Mr X to the police to report what they had seen, did not return or avail themselves on what they saw or to testify. (The accused) met Mr X in the township and asked Mr X what was he doing at the police station. At that stage, clearly they did not yet know that he had made a statement. Once they knew, obviously told by a member of the SAPS, The Guptas immediately started looking for Mr X in the township. The search went so far as some unknown men visiting his relatives in a rural village in the Eastern Cape the next day to look for Mr X there,” the judgment read.

Judge Thulare contextualised the circumstances of the Khayelitsha case.

“The investigating officer at the time of the incident ... made the observation that there was an element of fear in the community, in investigating this crime.

No one wanted to be seen talking to the police. When he interviewed the witnesses, he noticed with significance that there was information known to the witnesses which they held back. As a result of the fear and holding back, the case relied on a single witness as others did not want to assist.”

Meanwhile, spokesperson for police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), Phaladi Shuping said that following the request received by (police oversight and community safety) MEC Reagen Allen, Ipid has studied the contents of the Thulare judgment and noted the report and findings of the Western Cape ombudsman in a different matter.

“Ipid has engaged the premier of the Western Cape on the matter. Ipid has noted with concern the grave findings made by Judge Thulare and is committed by its mandate to investigate any SAPS member implicated in any form of corruption or collusion with criminal gangs. It must be noted that the extent of the activities of the gangs is not a new phenomenon and requires a collective approach to eradicate society of such ills.”

In October, provincial police commissioner Fannie Masemola said during a media briefing that the report of an independent investigation into the murder of top cop Charl Kinnear “was ready” and at the time he was to make decisions on action to be taken against implicated police officers.

Enquiries to the police ministry and provincial police commissioner about the Khayelitsha case were not answered by deadline on Wednesday.

Cape Times