Pretoria - Minister Bheki Cele yesterday declared war on Mamelodi’s so-called Number 1 Tsotsi, saying his days were numbered.
“It’s time we show him who the real boss is. We are not going to be ruled by gangsters here. If needs be we will die in Mamelodi,” he said.
Previously, Cele had asked for three months to deal with the man, but the minister revoked that yesterday and instead asked for three weeks to handle the matter.
“Three month’s is clearly too long. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please give me three weeks. In fact, three weeks are also too long,” said Cele.
If needs be, Cele said, they would establish a permanent special police unit in Mamelodi to deal with the alleged criminal. “His senders must go tell him that I said so. We are not going to be run by a thug. We want no blood, but if needs be, then let it,” said Cele.
He assigned police structures to assemble all units, including the Tactical Response Team and the National Intervention Unit, to start an operation in Mamelodi.
Cele, national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole and provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela were in Mamelodi to engage the community on policing matters.
Resident Musa Dolo raised the issue of the alleged criminal dubbed No 1 Tsotsi. “Minister, we have a boss in the township who is terrorising the community. He is extorting businesses, monopolising drug sales, taking over taxis and causing fear in the community,” Dolo told Cele, to a standing ovation in the packed International Assemblies of God Church.
Although Dolo didn’t name the culprit, many in the hall seemed to know who he was referring to. “His cronies are probably here with us as I speak,” said the visibly terrified but equally brave man.
He said his sidekicks moved around the township collecting money from lucrative businesses. Among his alleged victims are taxi owners who apparently have to pay him R200 a week per vehicle.
It was also claimed that shop owners pay between R250 and R600 a month.
He said the man was well-known in the community and that the mere mention of his name struck fear into the hearts of many taxi operators and business people.
He said the taxi boss was accused of running an extortion ring which forced entrepreneurs to pay him a “protection fee”.
Dolo’s statements were met with mixed reactions. Many said he had just signed his death warrant, and that the man was to going to “deal” with him. Others commended him for his courageous act.
“He did what we were all thinking, but were scared to say. It’s like we all had this monkey on our back about No 1 Tsotsi, but we’re cowards to speak out,” said another resident.
Afterwards, Cele issued an instruction to the police: “Make sure that boy doesn’t die.”
He was responding to fears by those at the gathering that Dolo had just signed his own death warrant.
A few weeks ago Premier David Makhura also promised to deal with the man. He said at the time: “One chap is on a reign of terror. He has turned Mamelodi into his own ‘thiefdom’.
“He is terrorising everybody, shooting people, collecting money from business and shutting down projects. Watch this space. His days out of prison are numbered.”