Murder, drugs, extortion, car and business hijackings as gangs terrorise Mamelodi residents
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Pretoria - Residents of Mamelodi say not one but three gangs, including the notorious gang “Boko Haram”, are responsible for the reign of terror in the Tshwane township which involves murder, drug dealing, extortion, car and business hijackings.
According to a community leader, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, apart from the so-called Boko Haram, criminal groups such as Farasai and Al Qaeda were also terrorising residents of the township east of Gauteng. This was in addition to another gang led by taxi boss Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela, known as the City’s Number 1 “tsotsi”.
Pretoria News previously reported that Mamelodi was under siege from criminal gangs who specialised in banditry, extortion, drug dealing, contract killing, and car hijacking.
Farasai is said to deal with murder for hire, according to locals.
“We know of cases where they are sent to deal with people. For instance, aggrieved lovers pay a sum of R5 000 for the services,” said a community leader.
Al Qaeda apparently focuses on drugs and is behind most car hijackings, while Boko Haram is known for extortion of all kinds and contract hijacking in Mamelodi and surrounding areas.
The resident said victims were so fear stricken they hardly dared open a case with the police, and those who did were threatened until they withdrew them.
Crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele last week also painted a grim picture about the township, which featured in the top 30 stations for contact crimes.
Yesterday, DA members held a picket outside the Mamelodi West Police Station, which has been thrust into the spotlight for failing to deal with the lawlessness brought on by the gangs.
They called for action in the murder of party activist Daniel Sello, who was vocal when Boko Haram allegedly invaded the Kingston hostels.
MPL Fred Nel, handing over a memorandum, said they were concerned about the lack of progress in solving this case and the disturbing reports of police officials being complicit in the crimes.
“We are concerned that no significant progress was made in his case, and that no arrests have been made. The case will not go away. We will not let it go until justice is served.“
A close friend of Sello said it was still painful to recount. He was sad it seemed nothing was being done to bring justice.
“Daniel was marked for being vocal when they wanted to take over the Kingston hostels, and they tracked him and murdered him in his room for standing up for the true beneficiaries meant to stay there."
Tshwane member of mayoral community (MMC) for Community Safety and Emergency Services, Karen Meyer, said the gang members were known to the community, and their existence for so long was a problem.
Last week, Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela visited the township and vowed gang activity would be dealt with as they had enough intelligence from various stakeholders.
These included community members, who were informing them of the groups’ modus operandi, including its hierarchy, where they lived and what projects they were taking over in Tshwane.
He said they had also recruited detectives who were supported by police intelligence and forensic investigators assisted by prosecutors.
“We are busy, and once the time is ready we are going to pounce on them and we won't lose our grip on them.”
Last week, the police raided the Sun Valley Hostels in Mamelodi, which were said to be one of the many turfs the group had hijacked. The multidisciplinary team included the SANDF and the police’s Tactical Response Team, previously known as Amaberete.
At the time, Mawela said they had also recruited detectives who were supported by police intelligence and forensic investigators assisted by prosecutors. “We are busy, and once the time is ready we are going to pounce on them and we won't lose our grip on them.”
Boko Haram is said to hijack buildings, kick service providers out, and threaten – and kill, those who stand in their way.
“Boko Haram’ hijacks vehicles and changes the vehicle identity numbers, and from spaza shops they collect R2 000 a month in exchange for not taking over them through violence. They collect on the 25, 26 and 27 of every month,” said a source at the time.
When Pretoria News visited the township, terrified residents said talking about the gang was not an option as it meant death.
But one resident living near the Heatherley landfill site said that area was also under the gang’s rule, as it spread out from the centre of the township.