Cele reveals more than 100 arrests made related to CT extortion rackets

Police Minister Bheki Cele said that three police officers were being investigated for extortion, including the deputy Defence minister's protector, who was arrested for kidnapping to extort in March.

Police Minister Bheki Cele (M) gave an update of extortion cases in Cape Town on 8 April 2021. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - The work of a special committee to address extortion in Cape Town has led to just more than 100 arrests.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Thursday that 106 people linked to extortion cases in the metro had been arrested and charged.

Seven months ago, a multi-disciplinary committee was set up.

He said that three police officers were being investigated for extortion, including the deputy Defence minister's protector, who was arrested for kidnapping to extort in March.

Cele said that 20 of the cases were opened in Khayelitsha and that the Nyanga policing cluster recorded 13 of the cases. He explained why he had emphasised the townships.

"It looked initially like it was a central town issue, an issue of an illegal crime. It came up to say no, even ordinary magadebe Khayelitsha, who has one backyard khaya and somebody is paying R300 there, extortionists will still go there, wanting 10%."

Cele said that the phenomenon of extortion through kidnapping and extorting residents and workers coming from work was also on the uptake.

"When nightclubs were shut down because of COVID-19, the work for the smaller guys like eateries, so they will diversify, going for kidnapping, they'll also make sure that they have this ransom, so it's a diversified kind of crime."

EXTORTION IN THE TAXI INDUSTRY

Minister Cele said that he would engage with authorities in Cape Town to address extortion within the transport sector.

This came amid concern over taxi violence following the murder of Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) president, Victor Wiwi, in Nyanga on Wednesday.

Another man was killed and two people were wounded.

Cele said that had it recently become apparent that extortion rackets were not only targeting restaurants and nightclubs, industries such as construction and transport were also affected.

He said that the taxi industry was among those dealing with extortion.

“There is extortion. Private cars get school kids, lift clubs going to work. You find that those are stopped from doing that work by some kind of associations. We need to act there.”

The police minister said that in light of the murder of Wiwi, he would be calling a meeting with the transport ministry.

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