By Rapula Moatshe4h ago
Pretoria – The criminal cases of the prominent Boko Haram gang in Mamelodi have been withdrawn by complainants allegedly paid by the suspects to buy their silence.
This was disclosed by the police during a virtual meeting with the community safety portfolio committee on Friday.
Police were responding to a concern raised by DA Gauteng MPL Crezane Bosch regarding intimidation and threats made by gang members against those who dared to report them.
Bosch wanted to know whether the police had a witness or complainant protection programme, and why cases against the gang had been withdrawn.
It was also revealed that communities in Bronkhorstspruit, Pretoria West and Rosslyn were also living in fear of the gang extorting money from local businesspeople.
DA spokesperson on community safety, MPL Michael Shackleton, said there had been Boko Haram activities in ward 55 in Pretoria West.
“There are reports of projects being taken over and the rumours are that if you look at the people who are being arrested, those are the same members who belong to Boko Haram from Mamelodi,” he said.
Deputy Gauteng provincial commissioner for crime detection, Major-General Johan Ndlovu, said there was a witness protection programme for those being intimidated.
Regarding the withdrawal of cases, he said: “We checked what it was about the withdrawal of those cases. We found that the witnesses or complainants were paid some money by the suspects and then they went to court and withdrew the cases.”
It appeared during the meeting that gangsterism was a thorn in the flesh in many communities across the province, affecting areas such as Sophiatown, Khutsong and Eldorado Park.
Provincial police commissioner lieutenant-General Elias Mawela however said the police’s anti-gangsterism strategy would be used to “neutralise” the criminal groupings terrorising communities.
“They (the gangs) are many and some are dying along the way, and some are becoming stronger, but we continue to neutralise them.
It is true that gangsterism is nationwide. We are not the only ones having a challenge with gangsterism, and that is why the department has put together an anti-gangsterism strategy to deal with that,” he said.
The police said gang-related incidents manifested themselves in shootings, extortions, intimidation, killings, as well as organised crime.
The overriding motive for the gangs, it was said, was financial gain and power.
Some gangs were motivated to illegally occupy hostels and RDP houses and terrorise vulnerable people who included foreign nationals and recyclers.
The polices strategy was driven through the establishment of the anti-gang unit, which had one of its sections dealing with organised crime.
In Tshwane, there is a district intervention plan, which involves profiling of persons of interest and hotspot areas, identification of criminal groupings and a 24 hour hotline for reporting gang-related incidents.
In Mamelodi, police have established a team comprising the tactical response teams, visible policing as well as public order policing, all responsible for conducting high visibility operations, identifying hotspots and conducting stop and search operations.
Mawela said the police were aware of the gang activity taking place in other parts of Tshwane, saying the task team was established to investigate those cases.
By Rapula Moatshe4h ago