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Monday, October 3, 2022

Community paralysed with fear of extortion gang

Cape Town – As the plight in security payment murders worsens, family of the deceased are not only left in a state of anguish over the unexpected loss of their bread winners, but they are also left in a vulnerable state of financial distress.

One such person, wishes to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, said that she was just beginning to enjoy her newly-wed status when her husband was murdered by an extortionist because he did not want to make payments.

“When they brutally murdered my husband, I was left in a dark place. I lost a part of me, and if it wasn’t for my kids, I don’t think I would have gained the strength to get up every day.”

As the plight in security payment murders worsens, family members of the deceased are not only left in a state of anguish over the unexpected loss of their bread winners. AYANDA NDAMANE African News Agency (ANA)

“Before my husband passed, I had my own events, decor and catering business. It’s been a year since I’ve last been in business because I’m scared I’ll be approached for extortion money. It’s even hard to do things for your community or donate to the youth because you are left with no money to spare for the poor or the unemployed.

“Everyone fears for their lives here and everyone who has a business or flats has to pay them in order to stay alive. They say it’s ’security payment’ but there is still a 90% chance that you might still get robbed because they are not always at your business vicinity, yet they come to collect their monthly fee.”

“Due to this, I’ve become a widow without the support that I used to get. I had to cancel our medical aid because I couldn’t afford everything. You might ask me about all the things that my husband had left, but all that was taken by my in-laws.”

“While I was busy mourning for my husband, my in-laws were busy collecting all the assets owned by my late husband. So by the time I decided to gain my strength back, there was nothing left for me. They took everything. Now I’m in a court battle for my husband’s belongings and the little money that I am able to save has to go to lawyers,” she said.

Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said they remain concerned about extortion activities in communities.

“In the last 480 days, the area has had a spike in incidents of protection fees being demanded from local businesses. The whole situation has gripped the community in fear and the fact that the crime itself is executed in a very coordinated fashion and the extortionists use fear as a tool through which to silence anyone found to be a whistle-blower.

“In the last few months, the community working in collaboration with the SAPS have embarked on exercises which included a rigorous community education about safer ways of reporting and knowing your neighbour campaign,” said Tyhido.

Private Investigator Willlem van Romburgh said that because it is a difficult task to prove extortion because of safety reasons, one needs to have solid evidence.

“Without creating risk to oneself, try and obtain some form of proof, A recording, or CCTV footage with sound, or a WhatsApp voice note, etc. One can also record using your cellphone by downloading a recording app, or before the meeting, switch the phone to airplane mode. Remember to keep it in airplane mode, If not, the phone might ring and the recording will stop,” said Van Romburgh.

He added that approaching the police station and insisting on seeing a senior officer is the best option when approached by an extortionist.

“Extortion is a difficult crime to prove, and if not handled in the correct way, the guilty parties will never be convicted. Senior officers have the skills and ability to handle such problems, in accordance with the law.”

“One should not try to fight with people trying to extort from you. They may be more dangerous than what they look and no money is worth injury or even death,” said Van Romburgh.

Weekend Argus

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