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Six cops in gang-ridden Western Cape arrested for ‘stealing perlemoen’ and escorting drugs for criminals

Six cops in gang-ridden Western Cape arrested for ‘stealing perlemoen’ and escorting drugs for criminals
A group of police officers have been arrested in the Western Cape, where accusations previously surfaced that 28s gangsters are working with cops. They allegedly took perlemoen from suspects and used an official vehicle to basically ensure the safe passage of drugs. (Photo: Gallo Images / Steve Eggington)

A group of police officers have been collared for allegedly taking perlemoen from suspects and using an official vehicle to basically ensure the safe passage of illicit drugs. They have been detained in the province, where accusations previously surfaced that 28s gangsters were working with police. 

Half a year of cop-on-cop investigations has led to the arrests of six South African Police Service (SAPS) officers who now face charges of working with, and not against, the very individuals they are meant to be targeting.

A seventh officer is also set to be detained.

The six officers — two sergeants and four constables — were arrested early on Tuesday 28 March at the Maitland Flying Squad offices in Cape Town.

They have been suspended from the police service and are expected to appear in a court in the city on Thursday.

Policing organised crime

The officers face charges for allegedly working with criminals involved in smuggling perlemoen and drugs, arenas tightly entwined with gangsterism.

These illicit trades are also deadly.

While the motive for the shooting is not yet clear, convicted perlemoen poacher Denver Langenhoven was murdered in what appeared to be a hit at a restaurant in the Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch on 16 March.

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk told Daily Maverick on Tuesday that the incident, in which a woman was also wounded, was under investigation.

These investigations into organised crime, which also involve cops looking into their colleagues, are playing out in the Western Cape where it emerged in October last year, in a court judgment, that evidence suggested that 28s gangsters infiltrated the province’s police management.

Cop-gang collusion allegations

It was alleged the 28s gangsters had access to Crime Intelligence reports and meetings during which policing strategies were discussed.

Investigations, at a provincial level and within the SAPS, were launched into the rattling contents of the judgment. 

It is not clear if Tuesday’s arrests are linked to the 28s gang allegations.

Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut said the police’s provincial anti-corruption unit carried out the arrests following a six-month investigation.

It may be coincident, but this suggests the investigation was launched at roughly the same time the court judgement relating to police and the 28s was handed down.

‘Taking perlemoen, escorting drugs’

Traut said the six arrested officers faced corruption charges.

“They are accused of corrupt activities where boxes of abalone were seized from suspects on a number of occasions without making any arrests or handing in the abalone as exhibits,” he said.

“They are also accused of harbouring a corrupt relationship with persons on the wrong side of the law by escorting drugs with a police vehicle.”

Traut said investigations were ongoing and it was anticipated that as those developed, more charges could be brought against the arrested members.

Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile welcomed the arrests and warned that “corrupt members masquerading as police officers will be brought to book to face the full might of the law.”

Cops already in custody

The province has previously (before the 28s gang-cop collusion judgment from October last year), been the focus of police corruption claims.

The assassination of Anti-Gang Unit police officer Charl Kinnear outside his Bishop Lavis home in Cape Town in September 2020 magnified the allegations.

Kinnear had previously claimed some police colleagues were working against him.

Among those arrested in connection with his murder are organised crime suspect Nafiz Modack, who Kinnear had been investigating, and one of his colleagues at the time, sergeant Ashley Tabisher.

The arrest of Tabisher in the Kinnear murder case suggested the Anti-Gang Unit had been compromised.

In another case, Wayne Henderson, who was once also with the Anti-Gang Unit, was among those arrested in connection with the August 2017 assassination of Brian Wainstein, also known as the Steroid King, in Cape Town. DM

Caryn Dolley has spent years tracing the footprints of crime/drug kingpins from across the world. In her latest book, Clash of the Cartels, Dolley provides unprecedented insight into how specific drug cartels and syndicates have operated via South Africa, becoming embroiled in deadly violence in the country and bolstering local criminal networks. Available now from the Daily Maverick Shop.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Kevin Jacobs says:

    Throw the book at them and impose the harshest sentence allowable. Let the gangsters enjoy their new “girlfriends.”

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Some flying squad members have been doing this for years,also some at Strand(I testified their) ,Kleinmond,Hermanus and Gansbaai.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    The police need to earn more money obviously….pride in their jobs,education and higher salaries based on experience would stop the need to take bribes! Perhaps the Force should form small corruption busting units where they get rewarded with bonuses for every conviction?
    Something needs to change.

    • David Forbes says:

      New cops are “initiated” into corruption by their corrupt colleagues. Then they cannot spill the beans on their colleagues because they have been compromised themselves. The entire training system needs to change, to make it community oriented policing with lots of specialisations. I worked on a TV series with SAPS for 10 months – I know.

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    I hope they’re not expecting a standing ovation! We have all known this for years. The mess is 100% the result of the corruption and total lack of ethics in the police force. Nobody trusts them.
    Best they pull up their socks and get the job done.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Money don’t make you honest,honesty is a character trait.

  • Joseph Neethling says:

    Just as a fish rots from the head so SAPS is rotten from the top. Bheki Cele is totally unsuitable and unqualified to be the minister of Police. Fact!

  • virginia crawford says:

    It’s been happening for decades. Start with that fact when investigating. Are these cops out on bail? Good thinking! Witnesses are intimidated and murdered, also not news. And that old fool Cele just sails blithely on.

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