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2021/03/29      |  Written By:  Mr M Ngxukumeshe   |   Province:  Western Cape

Western Cape police have vowed to root all the activities and life-threatening intimidations by the marauding extortion syndicates who have instilled a sense of fear to the community members and businesses at large holding them at ransom, with what, the criminals termed it as protection fee.

Speaking during an Extortion workshop which was held on Wednesday 17 March at Cape Town Civic Centre, Deputy provincial commissioner Maj Gen Mpumelelo Manci said the aim of the workshop was to unpack the subject of extortion and narrowed it down for them to have a full grasp of extortion and be privy with all its intricacies.

Outlining the purpose of the event, Gen Manci, whose Visible Policing department in the province were the host of the workshop laid bare painful experiences on how the gang of criminals have penetrated into different communities making demands to have a share for their hard-earned cash of business profits and the salaries of those who are working.

He told representatives of safety and security cluster and other stakeholders in attendance that one of the purposes of the workshop was not only to reduce extortion, but they wanted to stamp it out once and for all.

The delegates who attended were including the external role-players from the Office of the Premier, National Prosecuting Authority, Department of Transport, Community Safety, Justice, City of Cape Town Safety and Security and Business Against Crime.

The SAPS internal role-players who attended included DPC Policing, Provincial Head Legal Services, DPCI,  Organised Crime,  Bluedowns Cluster and Provincial Communication.

 “Today we are here in this event to fix our focus firmly on the matter of extortion, in order for us to be able to dismantle the syndicates and the extortion in its’ entirety, we have to be able to understand it, so that we know, what we are up against and know what are we doing about.”

“It is our view as SAPS that the presence of different experts and practitioners in this gathering field of safety and security will help us on how to navigate and deliberate in this matter in the end dovetailed it in our policing strategy and operational plan.”

Meanwhile, one of the experts in the field of Organised Crime and Extortion from Global Initiative, Peter Gastrow has presented during the workshop a lengthy but, eye-opening information, which he extracted from his research with regard to extortion, putting emphasis on the factors and operations of extortion which are led by extortion groupings.

Among other things he pointed out, Gastro said he had learnt that there was a surge of extortion in Khayelitsha especially in area known as Site C section, where alarming stories have been told about an ordeal that the community members and businesses were going through.

 He said these communities have been engulfed with a sense of fear that includes areas of Gugulethu, Philippi and occasionally Cape Town Central.

Western Cape MEC For Public Works Donald Grant who represented the office of the Premier said the Western Cape government would actively provide all the necessary support needed to dismantle any form of organised crime which does not only endanger the innocent citizens, but it was also hurting the economic activity of the province.

He called upon the police to step up the efforts to root out all elements of extortion.

“Our doors would always be opened for any engagement and discussion to find workable solutions that will eliminate these criminal syndicates who are hell-bent continuing to disturb peace and harmony in our communities,” Grant said.  

 The workshop break into two commissions, where Commission 1 delved into the following highlights: Unemployment and Economic pressures, Low Risk, Control and Power, Gangsterism, Easy to get away with, Intimidation, Poverty and Reporting of Crime.

 Commission 2 pay its attention to the following highlights: How do we address the allegations of ineffective policing?, How do we break the silence of community and stop them from giving money?, How does extortion affect our economy ?  What monitoring and Evaluation of measures that we can put in place to stamp out extortion?.

Photos taken by WO Ryan Jonker