Call to hire cops to curb racketeering in Cape Town’s CBD
A rent-a-cop initiative has been proposed in an attempt to curtail racketeering in the CBD.
The restaurants and cafés in the city centre will have to fork out R12 500 per law enforcement officer deployed as opposed to “protection fees” of at least R20 000.
Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said: “We have seen this in San Diego, Sacramento and Chicago. This will help stop some of the criminal syndicates. Law enforcement officers may be used instead of private security companies.
"Long Street had this where there were about 10 or 20 officers that assisted with things like bag-snatching, pick-pocketers, aggressive begging and drug dealers.”
Randolf Jorberg, chairperson of the Long Street Association and owner of Beerhouse, said he felt it was effective against petty and street crime, but not effective against organised crime.
“I hear JP and agree with him that organised crime/racketeering isn’t an issue that law enforcement officers, metro police or anything that’s currently under the control of the Western Cape government can solve, but it’s up to SAPS, Hawks, national government to lead this.
"But my understanding is that there are tools that the Western Cape government can use to hold the federal structures accountable,” said Jorberg.
Many club venues have been paying protection fees for years.
Now the cafés and restaurants are being asked to pay up and in addition, they may hire their own security. Jorberg said he had received threats from the syndicate after bringing this to light.
Last week, Jorberg told the Weekend Argus: “In the last days, many businesses that never had to pay for protection have been approached by Nafiz Modack’s gang to start paying him, asking for up to R20 000 a month."
Modack has accused Jorberg of fabricating the whole story. He also alleged that Jorberg owes his suppliers and investors R2 million and they were calling Modack to collect the money from the Beerhouse owner.
Jorberg, said it was no secret that every business has outstanding debt.
“What does that have to do with me standing up against adding involuntary debt?” he said.
“No one was by him to threaten him or anything. If I wanted money from him I would have made him pay. He is an attention seeker.
"He is trying to get more club owners on his side. His manager from the Cape Town branch called me, begging for a meeting because staff had not been paid. I’ll be a good citizen and pay the staff,” said Modack.
Cape Town Beerhouse manager JP Schmidt confirmed to the Weekend Argus that he did request a meeting with Modack because staff needed to be paid and many had been let go.
“Since lockdown, we have not been paid except for (UIF) Ters. Now we are working and should get some sort of salary,” said Schmidt.
A chief executive of a residential building said he was also threatened by a syndicate when he refused to pay protection fees.
“They arrived in seven to eight cars with big men and guns. They said they wanted to meet me to discuss business. I said no I don’t want to do business with them.
"They kept trying to get into the building. I even lost a customer when he found out what was going on,” said the chief executive, who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons.
He added that this only stopped when everything came to light in the media in the last few weeks.