Bishop Lavis extortion attempt highlights wider problem in Cape Town

Cape town has seen a rise in extortion in recent years and it's become a far bigger problem.

Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - A fibre networking project in Bishop Lavis that was at risk because of extortion is now continuing.

The Bishop Lavis community policing forum's Graham Lindhorst said that a contractor who had been approached by gangsters had decided to discontinue.

However, a different contractor has now come on board to complete the project.

"That contractor started the project is going on. We have given him more people from the community to work on the project, so the project is going on again," Lindhorst said.

Lindhorst said that extortion threatened the entire community.

"We feel that we will lose business in our areas because people will not want to come and invest in our areas if there's that sort of press, hence we are having a meeting to ask our community what will be our way forward because we cannot be kept at ransom by people who have other intentions than building up our community," Lindhorst said.

Cape town has seen a rise in extortion in recent years and it's become a far bigger problem.

The City of Cape Town's JP Smith agreed that the problem of extortion was a major problem.

"There's manifestations in the public transport industry, taxis impounding or hijacking of other vehicles, we've got construction companies being subjected to extortion rackets, the nightclub scene with people charging them protection fees under the guise of security, you have the extortion rackets of small businesses all over the city," Smith explained.

He said that there was a need for effective action to tackle extortion rackets.

"Criminal syndicates are finding new ways to enrich themselves through these practices that's why this city has been so vociferous in demanding the national government and national police service put something effective in place," Smith said.

Smith said that Police Minister Bheki Cele had been slow to act on promises of a task team to address extortion.

"An integrated task team has not yet come to fruition despite us having engaged the minister over many times, having called on them, saying 'look the task team you've committed to, what is at the moment happening?' It's of such a low order, of such a basic nature, that isn't having any meaningful impact," he said.