CCTV footage shows five men robbing Tracey's Diamonds, a jewellery shop in Franschhoek.
Durban - Infighting among members of Durban’s Pakistani community has been prioritised and is the subject of a provincial police task team investigation.

Independent business owners who do not belong to the Pakistan South Africa Association (PSSA) Durban branch claimed some members of the organisation acted like the “Mafia” and were demanding “donations” and hijacking businesses.

The PSSA this week rejected the claims, but the Sunday Tribune spoke to two business owners, one of whom claimed he had lost two businesses.

Riaz Muhammad said he was forced to “donate” his first cellular shop in September and a second one last month. Both are in Bertha Mkhize (Victoria) Street.

Muhammad subsequently opened an extortion case against two Durban leaders of the PSSA and two Pakistani men he accused of forcing him to sign business transfer documents which stated that he was donating his shops.

The four men are known to the Sunday Tribune.

In the first incident, Muhammad alleged that a leader of the PSSA forced him to sign the documents.

“They put a gun to my head. They were going to kill me if I didn’t sign those documents. They took my shop with stock that was worth more than R2million,” said Muhammad.

He said nothing had happened since he opened the case in November.

Although he no longer operated the business, Muhammed said he continued to pay the rent of R10360 and R18300 for his two shops.

The Sunday Tribune saw his bank statement. A police source confirmed that a case of extortion was being investigated.

“We are forced to pay ‘donations’ which are not part of Zakah. I know Zakah and pay it for poor people. These people rule over the Pakistanis in Durban by instilling fear,” said Muhammad.

According to a previous report, the gang also had members in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Muhammad Aslam, who owned a restaurant along Durban’s North Beach, sought a protection order against one of the PSSA leaders after they allegedly demanded a “donation” of R1m.

Initially, Aslam claimed that the leaders took his car and demanded that he pay R100000 for it to be released.

“I gave them the money. But when they demanded a million rand I told them I can’t afford that,” said Aslam.

Aslam said he did not go to his restaurant any more.

Hayat Khan, president of the PSSA, denied the claims levelled by Muhammad and Aslam. “These two people have opened false cases for their personal gains,” said Khan. He said the allegations against the association and its members were “totally false”.

Police confirmed the case at Durban central police station.

Sunday Tribune