Long Street businesses appeal for protection
LONG Street business owners are considering approaching the police for an interdict or protection order to prevent members of an alleged racketeering gang from entering their premises.
This comes after a high-level meeting including Police Minister Bheki Cele, Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya and the City of Cape Town’s JP Smith on Wednesday.
Cele promised owners cases would be expedited, and the police would protect their businesses.
“Restaurants and coffee shops in Cape Town are being bullied into paying protection fees.
“We view the situation very seriously.
“This issue of protection money is essentially extortion, and extortion is nothing less than organised crime,” Cele said.
Randolf Jorberg, owner of Beerhouse and chairperson of the Long Street Association, has been speaking out about the “protection fee” racket on behalf of other local business owners, because he is out of the country and feels safer than those based locally.
On Thursday night, just one day after Cele addressed media on camera outside Beerhouse – promising to protect business owners against racketeering – Nafiz Modack was filmed entering the Beerhouse premises surrounded by associates.
Modack has been named by Jorberg and Smith as the boss of the alleged racketeering group, but no charges were laid against him in this instance.
While Modack visited Beerhouse, some associates served free soup to hungry people from the boot of a bakkie parked outside.
In the wake of the visit, Jorberg planned to take out an interdict or protection order to prevent him from gaining access to the premises again.
Jorberg welcomed Cele’s assurances to Long Street business owners.
“It’s now about delivering, and not only issuing statements.
“I hope politics are left aside and this country unites to fight gangsterism and push it out of the country.
“I hope it starts with the issue of organised racketeering and that issues we raise as a business community are being taken seriously.
“I hope the police deliver on the promise to protect those who come forward.”
Cele said a big issue was businesses being too afraid of retaliation by the racketeers, to lay charges.
“One of our biggest challenges is the reluctance of businesses to open cases of extortion with the police.
“In order to allow us to act decisively against this situation, we need business to register cases with us.”
Jorberg acknowledged the danger faced by himself and others who chose to come forward.
“I’m fully aware that I’m exposing myself by becoming a spokesperson of the huge business community that lived in fear and is being made to retract statements and not open cases,” Jorberg said.
“I hope that this is a thing of the past and we can now trust the police powers that are meant to protect us.”