SAPS dragging its feet on Cape extortion racket boom

Combatting extortion and racketeering in Greater Cape Town has become critical as gangsters feel immune from the criminal justice system and what seems to be an unmotivated South African Police Service.

Extorting protection money from small businesses in swathes of the City has become so lucrative, so easy, and its consequences so remote, that criminals have expanded their threats to ordinary people with jobs.

Figures kept by the City of Cape Town show a dramatic rise in what amounts to a form of urban terrorism. Cases of extortion have expanded beyond businesses in the central business district to areas such as Khayelitsha, Bloekombos, Wallacedene, and Gugulethu.

There is evidence of a growing reign of terror. Gangsters have taken to holding public and private transport to ransom. Some are now demanding protection money from construction sites. Protection money is being extorted from foreign-owned businesses and even backyard dwellers who have jobs.

 As the private sector strives to recover from the devastating effect of the Covid-19 lockdown and the loss of so many jobs, it was inevitable that incidents of petty crime would increase, but this is something different. Citizens are under severe threat, unsafe even in their own homes.

Should this slide into lawlessness continue, economic recovery job creation will be severely hampered. It is critical that Minister Bheki Celle makes good on the promise he made six weeks ago to launch a task team to curb this scourge, now aimed not only at business but at the poorest of ordinary citizens.