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‘Dangerous forces are at play’ — Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on findings that gangsters infiltrated cops

‘Dangerous forces are at play’ — Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on findings that gangsters infiltrated cops
Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | A gangster shows his prison tattoos. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed) | A gang member brandishes a loaded pistol. (Photo: Brenton Geach) | The Anti-Gang Unit at Bishop Lavis Magistrates’ Court. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

In October, Daily Maverick reported on a court judgment warning that 28s gangsters had infiltrated the Western Cape’s policing structures. The province’s police ombud has now found that this is likely to be true and represents a fraction of the problem.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says the problem of gangsters colluding with cops is much broader than what is referred to in a recent and unprecedented court judgment warning that 28s gangsters have infiltrated the province’s police at all levels.

“What is clear is that this infiltration likely extends far beyond this particular case, and also that dangerous forces are at play here,” Winde said in a statement on Monday.

The unprecedented judgment

Winde was referring to an investigation that Western Cape police ombud Oswald Reddy carried out, on Winde’s instruction, into a judgment by Judge Daniel Thulare, that said evidence in a gang-related case suggested members of the 28s gang had corrupted not only low-ranking police officers in the Western Cape, but also the management structure.

The judgment, delivered in the Western Cape High Court on 17 October, is unprecedented in that it is the first time widely suspected links between police and gangsters are detailed in depth in a publicly accessible legal document — a high court judgment.

There have previously been other cases pointing to possible links between cops and gangsters. In 2016, former police colonel Chris Prinsloo admitted to selling about 2,000 firearms that were meant to have been destroyed, allegedly to a businessman who was accused of then smuggling the weapons to gangsters.

Thulare’s judgment, though, is exceptionally detailed and refers to several instances of police officers partnering with gangsters. One of the more chilling sections alleges that gangsters and a policeman planned to have someone murdered behind bars.

“The plan was to get the person into prison so that he could be killed,” the judgment said, adding that the plot was later changed so that the person was killed at a shebeen in Cape Town.

Gangsters and cops ‘probably’ colluded

Winde on Monday said that Reddy’s investigation into Thulare’s judgment “concluded that the allegations [in it] are likely substantiated”.

Reddy’s investigation and findings come after Daily Maverick reported extensively on the judgment at the end of October. 

28s gang ‘capture’ top Western Cape cops, prosecutors’ lives at risk – judge sounds corruption alarm

One of the most damning sections of the judgment said “the evidence suggests that the senior management of the [South African Police Service] SAPS in the province has been penetrated to the extent that the 28 gang has access to the table where the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in the Western Cape sits with his senior managers and lead[s] them in the study of crime, develop[s] crime prevention strategies and decide[s] on tactics and approach to the safety and security of inhabitants of the Western Cape.

“This includes penetration of and access to the sanctity of the reports by specialised units like the Anti-Gang Unit and Crime Intelligence, to the Provincial Commissioner.”

At the end of October, in reaction to media focus on the judgment, the SAPS issued a statement saying the allegations in the judgment would be investigated within the service.

“Any member… guilty of transgressing the law exposes themselves to investigation and criminal prosecution and/or disciplinary proceedings if this is warranted on the facts of the matter,” the statement said.

Winde, at the end of October, also announced that he had instructed Reddy to investigate the links between police officers and gangsters as detailed in the judgment.

On Monday, Winde provided an update on this investigation.

The Western Cape Premier said Reddy handed over his final report on 18 November.

‘Decisive consequences’

“I am now carefully studying the Ombud’s report, which concluded that the allegations are likely substantiated, and considering my next steps.

“There must be decisive consequences for those found to be colluding with gangs. This includes senior officials under whose watch this has been allowed to happen,” said Winde.

Winde said he met Western Cape police commissioner Thembisile Patekile to discuss the matter. (A Daily Maverick query to the Western Cape police on Monday had not been responded to by the time of publication.)

“I will be holding further engagements on the Ombud’s report and will share this with the public as soon as I am in the position to do so.

“We have to act within our limited mandate on this issue to confirm what many residents of the Western Cape have long suspected — that some SAPS members are colluding with gangsters, effectively abandoning their oath to protect and serve, instead choosing to make many of our gang-stricken communities even more unsafe,” said Winde.

‘Serious and concerning’

Last month, Daily Maverick reported that a SAPS presentation to Parliament said a lieutenant-general had been appointed to investigate Thulare’s judgment and that the allegations contained in it were viewed as “serious and concerning”.

In a police committee meeting in Parliament, Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale, referring to Thulare’s judgment and the Anti-Gang Unit, said the whole police service should not be viewed as a criminal organisation, but “there are elements that work with gangsters… within the police service — we do have elements who are engaged in criminal activity and such elements, when found, we take action against them”.

Thulare’s judgment was against Elcardo Adams and Alfonso Cloete. The duo unsuccessfully tried to overturn a decision that they should not be released on bail.

Adams was accused of being the head of the Mobsters, a faction of the 28s gang. He is charged with several crimes, including murders.

Prosecutors’ lives are at risk

Apart from pointing out that gangsters and police were colluding, Thulare’s findings also said state officials who were clamping down on gangsters were being targeted:

“The evidence further shows that the 28 gang and the Mobsters in particular are breathing heavily on the necks of public prosecutors who guide the investigation of organised crime and institute criminal proceedings against its members.

“Such prosecutors are under a constant and permanent threat to their lives and that of their close families. The evidence also shows that the Mobsters… are interfering with the decorum of the courts and the independence of judicial officers, and testing the judicial oath of office, especially the word ‘without fear’.”

These statements could be seen as a reminder of a previous trial against 28s gang boss, George “Geweld” Thomas, who wielded influence over the Mobsters and who, in 2015, was convicted of several crimes, including murders.

While the trial against him and several co-accused played out in the Western Cape High Court, the prosecutor had been under protection given the risks associated with the case.

Fear and distrust

Thulare’s judgment, and investigations into it, are unfolding while other problems relating to the SAPS have come to the fore.

In Parliament last week, Patricia Mashale — who said she blew the whistle on extensive corruption within the SAPS relating to KwaZulu-Natal — addressed the police committee while in hiding, as she feared for her life.

She said she did not trust SAPS or the State Security Agency to conduct a threat assessment on her.

Security relating to Charl Kinnear, a police officer assassinated outside his home in Cape Town in 2020, was also focused on in Parliament recently.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “ ‘We were lied to’ – The fiasco of ‘Top Secret’ Ipid report into the assassination of senior cop Charl Kinnear

It was public knowledge that at the time of his murder, Kinnear — who was not under state protection despite threats to his life — did not trust certain police colleagues.

Kinnear was involved in several investigations, including into police officers and others linked to the 28s.

Three days before his murder, two men — Ashwin Willemse and Waylin Abdullah — were found guilty of murder in the Western Cape High Court in a case in which Kinnear was the final witness.

In December 2018 Kinnear wrote to his bosses, complaining that certain Western Cape police officers, some with links to Crime Intelligence, were working to frame him and some of his colleagues.

Kinnear had also complained that some officers were aligned with organised crime suspect Nafiz Modack, who is among those accused of involvement in Kinnear’s murder.

Issues around Kinnear’s security were the focus of an Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigation which found, among other issues, that a “rogue” unit of cops existed in the Western Cape — backing Kinnear’s complaint to his bosses two years before his murder. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Premier Winde should appoint a provincial commission of inquiry into the matters raised in the judgment. Engaging with police leadership is unlikely to be fruitful given the serious nature of the findings in the judgment, which implicates police leadership in wrongdoing. The O’Regan commission has already paved the way.

  • Michael Davies says:

    Cops colluding with gangsters is more despicable than politicians stealing money. Gangsters are known murderers, therefore the guilty cops should be charged with aiding and abetting murder, extortion and contraband, not just corruption.

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