SAPS dealing with big fish 'and maybe some sharks' - Cele on Cape Town's extortion ring

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Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Police Minister Bheki Cele.
  • Bheki Cele says 105 extortion cases have been opened since January 2020.
  • He revealed that two police officers and a protector of a deputy minister were arrested for having alleged links to extortion rackets.
  • Cele held a media briefing on the latest developments made by the Western Cape Extortion Steering Committee.

Police Minister Bheki Cele believes they are slowly closing in on the extortion ring that has plagued Cape Town's businesses since last year.

He said progress has been made, despite challenges experienced by the task team.

"While there were some teething problems in the beginning, the team has taken off and its work so far has been commendable. Investigations are ongoing and we are expecting more arrests to take place. The integrated approach and sharing of resources are owed to these arrests," he said on Thursday.

It emerged that a deputy minister's protector and two other police officers were arrested for alleged links to extortion cases.

According to Cele, 105 extortion cases have been opened since January 2020, and 67 cases are still under investigation.

A total of 106 people linked to extortion cases have been arrested and charged. Most of the arrests were made in Khayelitsha and Nyanga.  

READ | "Nightclub security boss Modack to be allowed back into Cape Town clubs, restaurants

"But the injection of the 200 police officers, seconded from national to this province, as force multipliers in violence-laden hotspots across Cape Town, will go along a way in assisting our fight against this crime trend," said Cele.

Cele, along with the City of Cape Town and the provincial government, held a media briefing on Thursday on the latest developments made by the Western Cape Extortion Steering Committee.

Top investigators have been assembled to follow leads linked to an alleged extortion racket, which demands "security tax" from local restaurants, nightclubs and property owners.

The committee was established in September last year, following concerns from private individuals and businesses, who were being coerced into paying "protection fees".

It comes after the murder of top cop Charl Kinnear, who was the investigating officer in an extortion case against Nafiz Modack, Colin Booysen, Ashley Fields, Jacques Cronje and Carl Lakay.

News24 previously reported about an incident in Milnerton, involving a luxury car dealership.

CCTV footage showed a group of 40 men coming into the Toy Shop dealership and damaging eight vehicles after staff allegedly refused to give in to an apparent demand for two vehicles. Reports of extortion emerged at the time.

Ten people, between the ages of  22 to 47, were arrested through a police tracing operation.

But, in March, the state provisionally withdrew the charges.

Cele said the biggest issue was that charges against alleged extortionists were being withdrawn.

"It is an ongoing issue, we are not sure if the person is scared or whether there is just not sufficient evidence. But it's clear we are dealing with big fishes and maybe some sharks. We are clearly connecting the dots," he said.

ALSO READ | Deputy minister's protector, 2 cops arrested for alleged extortion in Western Cape

In response to the arrest of police officers and the protector of a deputy minister, Cele said: "Those are not police officers, they are criminals and they will be treated like all other criminals."

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa told News24 a deputy minister's protector was arrested on 14 March.

"One protector was arrested, the other one was a constable and another police official. The protector was arrested for links involving the kidnapping of a Chinese national," she said.

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