Killings in Khayelitsha linked to extortion gangs

The police minister says that they will deploy the SANDF if there is a need to deal with violent crimes in the township. Archive photo by Mzi Velapi

The police minister says that the killing of six men in Khayelitsha at the weekend is linked to extortion rackets.

The police are investigating a case of seven men who were shot in PJS informal settlement in Site B on Saturday evening. Five of the occupants died at the scene and two wounded victims were taken to hospital where one succumbed to his injuries. According to police reports, the victims, between the ages of 29 and 36, were inside a friend’s home when they were shot by three armed men.

The police minister, Bheki Cele, says that the mass murder and the subsequent killing of two men in what they believe is part retaliation, is linked to extortion rackets in Khayelitsha. Cele was addressing the media before he met with police commanders from different districts of the Cape Town metropole.

“After the five men were killed, there were two men who were also killed and we think it is linked. Both cases are being investigated and we hope that in no time we will find out who did what and why but we think the shootings are linked to extortion as they are fighting over turf,” Cele said.

“We have established that they were drinking and this was before the lifting of the alcohol ban. The police have profiled the deceased and we can reveal that three out of the six men had criminal records and that the owner of the house is attending a case for a murder of a police officer,” he said.

It has been reported that gangs in Khayelitsha and other townships target small businesses, informal traders and residents for extortion. In October last year, the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), called for a community prayer meeting to deal with extortion rackets operating in the township. Ndithini Tyhido, the KDF chairperson said that they are not aware of the statement that was made by Cele but said that they condemn the killing of people in Khayelitsha. “It doesn’t matter what the reasons are but we condemn the killing of people. We also try not to interfere with the investigation by making comments that will cast aspersions on these matters,” he said.

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Phindile George, the secretary of the Khayelitsha Community Police Forum (CPF), also said that he was not aware of the new developments in the case and could not comment. However, George said that generally as the CPF they appeal to all authorities, law enforcement agencies, the community and the courts to work together to stamp out crime and extortion rackets in Khayelitsha.

“We appeal to law enforcement agencies to work hard to stamp out crime. We also think that visible policing can assist in fighting crime. The communities should provide information to the police and that the courts should also play their part in handing down convictions,” George said.

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