Cape Town - In spine-chilling evidence in the Western Cape High Court, a gang member in witness protection, told of an army of gangsters belonging to one gang operating in the province and reporting to one of the most notorious gang leaders.
The Terrible Josters gang member, who cannot be named, is a State witness in the trial of alleged Terrible Josters gang leader Horatio Solomons, alias Voudie, and 11 other members. He told the court that the gang consisted of 10 000 members operating in various parts of the Western Cape.
The state claims that Solomons and his members, of which eight are alleged shooters, are facing 77 charges including 11 murders, dealing in drugs, money laundering, illegal possession of firearms and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca). The accused is the son of the sister of Ernie “Lastig” Solomons who is the alleged leader of the 28s gang, who also styled himself as a pigeon farmer and rapper.
Advocate Mervyn Menigo led the prosecution while four legal representatives appeared for the 12 accused before Judge Owen Rogers.
Members of the protection unit guarded the witness and members of the Anti-Gang Unit guarded the entrance to court 3.
Asked by Menigo to detail the leadership of the Terrible Josters gang, the witness said: “Horatio is the leader of the Terrible Josters in Delft, Wesbank, Elsies River and Kleinmond. I’ve met all the other leaders of this gang in Hawston at Club Octopus, where we attended birthday celebrations of Ernie Lastig on August 4. The last one I attended was in 2013 and I was also Mr Solomon’s bodyguard.
“At that gatherings Ernest Solomons talked to the different leaders and they gave him feedback. Of the leaders who attended the gatherings were Theo Doppie from the Mongrels, Basil Seven leader of the Terrible Josters in Bishop Lavis, Terrible Josters leaders from Kreefgat and Bonteheuwel and the leader of the Mongrels in Ottery. We have 10 000 gang members spread all over the Western Cape.”
On the hand sign used by the Terrible Josters, the witness explained that if he saluted a member with an open hand showing towards the member it meant he had no problem with him and came in peace. But if he greeted a member showing the back of his hand it signified that he didn't come in peace.
The court also heard that the Terrible Josters extensively dealt in drugs and sold it directly to people on the streets. Competition led to violent turf clashes in Delft, Belhar, Elsies, Paarl and Ottery. If the gang lost, it would join the Terrible Josters.
“We sold drugs on a wholesale basis to Riebeeck West and Paarl. I got drugs from Elton Eli who got them from a person known as Sas and Sas got the drugs from Ernest Solomons.
"If a gang does not make a profit on selling drugs he will wage a war with the one luring his customers away.
“On one occasion we lost two packs of mandrax, 2kg of tik, ammunition and R38 000 when the police raided a flat in Wilger Park, Bellville. On that same day we fixed the problem.
"We went to the home of Solomons’ mother in Durbanville and bought 300 mandrax tablets," the witness said in his testimony.
This is the second group of Terrible Josters appearing in court. Two weeks ago, a pre-trial hearing of the alleged gang leader in Delft South, Elton Lentin, 41, alias Koffie, and 19 others was held before Robert Judge Henney. Charges against them range from contravention of the Poca, attempted murder, drug possession and trafficking, intimidation, bribery, damage to property and selling drugs to schoolchildren.
The matter of Solomons and 11 co-accused will continue on August 26.