Cele promises to deal with CT business protection rackets

A number of complaints have been raised by businesses in the CBD and Woodstock.

Long Street in Cape Town. Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - Police Minister Bheki Cele has promised Cape Town business owners that the police are addressing protection rackets.

Cele announced on Thursday that a steering committee was being set up to deal with the matter.

A number of complaints have been raised by businesses in the CBD and Woodstock.

The minister said that the committee would share resources across government structures to tackle the issue.

Long Street is well known for its nightlife, bars, shops and restaurants but over the past few months, businesses here have felt the financial pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic and now, they're being forced to pay protection fees to criminals.

Police Minister Cele said that the extortion complaints would usually come from nightlife businesses but that's changed.

"After COVID-19 took long for the operation of night clubs, they [extortionists] had to find new targets and that's what we want to stop."

Cape Town's Mayco member for Safety, JP Smith, said that over the past few months these incidents had been increasing and business owners have looked to the City of Cape Town to deal with the issues.

"They cannot afford... they shouldn't have to afford it ever and coming straight after lockdown, they can't take it this shock to the system after the lockdown shock. You've seen now how many places are vacant along this road."

Cele is also encouraging businesses to come forward and report the cases so that police can investigate and find the culprits.

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