‘Hero’ in prison

iol news 13 jan cape flats hero in jail DV pic

People from Valhalla Park,Hanover Park and Bonteheuwel came in droves to support Saliem John at Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court where his bail application was denied. Picture: Mlondolozi Mbolo

A Cape Flats community is outraged after their murder-accused hero was denied bail and kept in custody.

Outside court on Thursday, Saliem John’s supporters claim he is a selfless, kind-hearted philanthropist who makes it his mission to keep kids off the streets and away from all forms of gang activity.

His soup kitchens, klopse troupe and newly-established soccer club earned him the title of President of Valhalla Park.

But residents tell the Daily Voice that John’s community projects have stopped since his arrest.

However, police paint a very different picture of the 28-year-old Valhalla Park man who they say is a leader of the notorious 28s gang operating in the area and is behind a string of murders.

John appeared in the packed Blue Downs Magistrates’ Court on Thursday on eight charges of murder, attempted murder and malicious damage to property.

Community members from Mitchell’s Plain, Hanover Park, Delft, Blikkiesdorp and his own community Valhalla Park came out in their numbers to support him.

Before 9am, supporters who filled up three taxis and several cars were already standing outside the court’s gates with posters calling for John’s release.

Another group of supporters filled every seat inside the packed courtroom.

Police were on high alert with heavily armed officers guarding entrances inside and outside the courtroom, keeping a close eye on the gallery.

John was arrested in November at his home in connection with the murders which police say occurred between 2007 and 2008.

During his testimony, investigating officer Warrant Officer Denver van Sitters told the court John was the murder mastermind.

Van Sitters said one of his witnesses, a gang member who admitted to being involved in some of the killings and making a petrol bomb, told him that John would order them to pull the trigger.

Van Sitters also revealed to the court that the modus operandi in each of the murders is the same.

“[John] would make the call or they would call him and he would instruct them [to kill their victims],” he said.

John appeared calm as the allegations emerged.

Speaking before his hearing, Delft resident Badronessa Morris told the Daily Voice John should be released so that he can continue his community projects.

“He’s a good man and he’s always looking after his community,” she says.

“He cares for the children and he’s always willing to help those in need.”

His attorney Noorudien Hassen said they would make every attempt to ensure his client is granted bail but their efforts were unsuccessful as Magistrate Pierre Nell denied his application.

This angered John’s supporters who later refused to speak to the media.

The case continues in March when John and three co-accused are expected back in court. – Daily Voice

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‘Hero’ in prison