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Khayelitsha seeing surge in gang-run extortion rackets, says community leader

Western Cape police said that there were at least 16 known hotspots operating within Cape Town and the surrounding areas.

A view of Khayelitsha in Cape Town. Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - A Khayelitsha community leader is raising the alarm over a surge in the number of extortion rackets led by gangs in the area.

And it appears it's not the only community under siege from extortionists.

Police believe that a mass shooting this week in Gugulethu, in which eight people were killed, could also be linked to an extortion and protection syndicate.

Western Cape police said that there were at least 16 known hotspots operating within Cape Town and the surrounding areas.

The Khayelitsha Development Forum's Ndithini Thyido said that extortion rackets were rife in the area.

“The situation is dire to the extent that when extortionist racket income streams are shrinking or they expand amongst themselves and they target individual community members or households.”

Police said that they were aware of the syndicates and were investigating.

But they needed the community to help and a hotline has been set up for anonymous tip-offs.

But given how gangs which run these rackets are known to intimidate would-be whistleblowers, it's feared that no one will come forward with information.

Geoffrey Mamputa, a conflict resolution expert explained how these criminals have morphed into more organised groups.

“They started formalising their relationships with spaza owners by making them pay protection fees, and they started organising themselves in terms of their neighbourhood.”

There are protection rackets operating in the Cape Town City Centre which target nightclubs and restaurants.

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