Picture: Pexels
Picture: Pexels

Minister’s bodyguard, cops held as extortion crime wave spreads across Cape Town

By Okuhle Hlati, Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Apr 9, 2021

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Cape Town – A deputy minister’s bodyguard, police officers and other law enforcement agencies are among more than 100 suspects arrested in relation to extortion as the crime continues to run deep across the City, not just in the townships and Cape Flats.

Since January 2020, 105 extortion-related cases have been opened and 67 cases are still under investigation.

Acting police commissioner Thembisile Patekile said yesterday different (extortion) groups were fighting over terrain which had led to mass shootings.

“Chinese and Somalians nationalities are the most targeted in kidnappings, that then leads to extortion and we are still probing the reasons behind this if maybe they have big businesses or what. The general extortion cuts right across the city, it's not just prevalent in the townships of Cape Flats.

“What is transpiring is that the groups are now fighting over the terrain leading to mass shootings. The extortions include gangs and wannabe gangs.”

A total of 106 people linked to extortion cases had been arrested and charged, while seven individuals were out on bail.

This as at least eight people are suspected to have been killed as a result of the crime in recent months.

The most recent incident on Monday saw a 28-year-old man shot dead at NY1 in Gugulethu.

A week ago, police rescued a 49-year-old Somali national who was kidnapped and held hostage in Nyanga.

During a briefing yesterday, Police Minister Bheki Cele unpacked the work by the Western Cape extortion steering committee, warning syndicates that he was coming for the “the big fishes” and that some have been identified.

“Indeed I can confirm that there are some of our officers that have been arrested. As a matter of fact those are not police officers, those are criminals and will be treated like all other criminals. Among them includes the protector of a deputy minister.

“Police attached to the protection and services are meant to minimise security violations by protecting foreign and local prominent people and securing strategic interests,” he said.

Initially extortion “looked like it was an elite crime problem” as mainly nightclubs and bars were being targeted, he said.

“But actually the extortionists were also going to townships like Khayelitsha to get percentages of rentals from the poorest of the poor.”

About 20 of the cases were opened in Khayelitsha while Nyanga policing cluster recorded 13 of the cases.

Two suspects Siyabulela Mendu, 32, and 30-year-old Luyanda Kalipi were arrested for the kidnapping of the Somali national and appeared at the Bellville Magistrate's Court on kidnapping and extortion charges.

They allegedly demanded R500 000 from the man’s family.

A Palestinian national who owns a spaza shop said he lost a family member who refused to pay extortion money.

“People behind this extortion thing send their boys to come and collect money and once you refuse they deal with you immediately, and if you have an excuse on the day of collection they give you just a day or two, and after that, they take no excuses.

’’These people are known people in the community and well respected, that is why we fear to report them because some of them work closely with police officers,” he said.

A Somali national said he has paid extortion for years.

“My boss came here and told me that every month there are people who will come and demand money and I should give them, so ever since then I have been doing that.

’’I used to get surprised sometimes seeing a police officer coming to collect money because I thought their job is to search if maybe I don't have drugs or anything illegal. It was then I realized that even police officers are part of this thing. Unfortunately, there is nowhere you are going to report the police officer who is part of this.”

Cele said although the committee, consisting of national and provincial governments, the police and the City, initially had teething problems, things have improved.

“The role players are working together integrating the resources. I have been invited by the City to see their CCTV rooms.”

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith called for the committee to implement what Cele had instructed.

Cape Times

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