The gang allegedly collects protection fees from local businesses, big or small, as well as from ordinary people, including recycle material collectors.
Mob-style crime is increasingly tightening its grip on communities, with experts warning that the extortion gang “Boko Haram” – currently under high-level police investigation for its alleged reign of terror in Mamelodi, Tshwane – was a sign of a growing problem.
Police Minister Bheki Cele last week confirmed that a team had been assembled to probe activities of the marauding gang of thugs alleged to have residents under siege through violence, extortion and demanding cuts from tenders and business deals.
The gang allegedly collects protection fees from local businesses, big or small, as well as from ordinary people, including recycle material collectors. According to former police-man Dawie Naude, the past five years has seen a proliferation of extortion gangs across the country, saying it has become a huge problem in townships and in-formal settlements.
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He said there were gangs specialising in extorting money from big establishments, including construction sites and shopping malls in townships, while others targeted small business, with people running stalls by the side of the road not spared.
“For big business, you pay so that you can operate peacefully with no robberies or break-ins. If you do not pay, they ensure that you close down through violence.“For those by the side of the road selling pap, fruit and so on, if you do not pay you get killed. It is that simple,” Naude, now a specialist private investigator at Sleuth Investigative Services, a Joburg detective agency, said.
The township is not new to al-leged extortion gangs, with taxi boss Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela – dubbed “Number One Tsotsi” by Cele, accused of running a similar extortion ring be-fore his arrest for the murder of North West businessman Wandile Bozwana.
Bozwana was gunned down five years ago on the N1 highway when gunmen opened fire on the car he was travelling in with his partner. Risk expert, Kyle Condon, said police lacked manpower, resources, intelligence and investigative skills to deal with the problem.
His biggest concern was that extortion was attractive in that if a 40 people are able to extort money from big businesses, nothing stops other people from gathering their friends and do the same.
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