Suspected perlemoen syndicate mastermind's murder sparks claims against police

2017-01-27 23:00
Russel Jacobs. (Facebook)

Russel Jacobs. (Facebook)

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Cape Town - The murder of an alleged perlemoen syndicate mastermind has led to the surfacing of claims and counterclaims of crime links and kickbacks involving some of the Western Cape's top police officers.

Russel Jacobs' killing last week has also ignited further violence. A man was murdered in perlemoen poaching hotspot Gansbaai on Thursday, in a crime said to be linked to Jacobs' death.

Jacobs, 38, was shot in Blue Downs last Friday and died a day later in hospital. The Belhar resident also had ties to the 28s gang.

Claims that two senior police officers had paid him R500 000 to do illegal work for them have emerged from police sources since his murder.

However, other sources claim that this information was fabricated by other senior police officers to tarnish the two cops' reputations, and is only being peddled now because Jacobs is dead and he cannot deny it.

Asked this week whether these claims were being investigated, or if an arrest had been made in Jacobs' murder, police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said: "The circumstances surrounding the murder of Russel Jacobs are still under investigation and there are no new developments to report at this stage."

READ: Fatal shooting linked to perlemoen syndicate rocks Cape underworld

Police faction 'bought' Jacobs

Sources say the claims against the two senior officers have resulted in further tensions between two factions in the province's police.

They say one faction, headed by the two officers, had "bought over" Jacobs. They go on to allege that the fact that Jacobs was never convicted for criminal charges dating back at least eight years proved they "protected" him.

In December, apparent fractures dividing the Western Cape's top tier of police officers were highlighted after messages from a high-level policing chat group were leaked.

An investigation into this was ordered.

Sources this week said that, apart from causing ructions in the police, Jacobs' murder sparked further violence and it was feared that more killings would happen as a result.

On Thursday, a man was gunned down in Gansbaai, an area where Jacobs' alleged perlemoen-syndicate operated.

String of charges

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said a case of murder was being investigated.

"According to reports, a 37-year-old man was shot... and fatally wounded by unidentified suspects... at Queen Point beach, Buffeljags," she said.

"No one has been arrested at this stage."

Jacobs, who was well known as the head of a minstrel group, was facing a string of perlemoen smuggling and organised crime related charges at the time of his murder.

He would have appeared in a Cape Town court on March 27, along with 15 other accused.

Court documents in the case reveal details about the alleged syndicate, which had links to China and which was eventually infiltrated by an undercover agent.

Police informer

According to a memorandum on the case compiled by the State, Jacobs was identified as the "leader" of the perlemoen smuggling syndicate "and the mastermind behind the activities of the organisation".

"[Jacobs] employed and made use of various persons in the acquisition, processing, storage and transport of abalone."

It said that, in July 2008, the director of public prosecutions authorised the use of an undercover agent "to infiltrate the syndicate" and store and transport perlemoen from Gansbaai to various locations in the Western Cape.

The memorandum said the agent had started out working as a building contractor for one of the accused in the case.

While working as a contractor he had noticed the man who employed him was involved in illegal perlemoen operations.

The contractor became a Crime Intelligence Unit informer.

Documents seized

"Surveillance cameras were installed at the agent's house during August 2008... Surveillance cameras were also installed on the farm at Riviersonderend where the abalone was dried, however, these cameras were discovered and destroyed by [Jacobs]," the memorandum said.

It said cellphone billing, bank statements and other documents seized during Jacob's arrest confirmed the evidence supplied by the agent.

The National Prosecuting Authority's regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila told News24 that Jacobs' murder would not prevent the trial of the remaining 15 accused in the case from going ahead.

"The case against the rest... will proceed as there is enough evidence for a conviction on the rest of the accused," he said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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