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ORGANISED CRIME ANALYSIS

Spate of shootings in Cape Town linked to political, gang and construction mafia elements

Spate of shootings in Cape Town linked to political, gang and construction mafia elements
Shots were fired at a motorist driving along Symphony Way in Cape Town on 31 March 2023. (Photo: Supplied)

At least three murders and two attempted murders were carried out in Cape Town last month in a wave of violence that is believed to be linked to gangsterism and lucrative construction tenders, which are in turn connected to politics.

Police in South Africa’s gangsterism capital, the Western Cape, are investigating a series of shootings as the focus increasingly falls on construction mafia violence.

In an attack that appears to be directly connected to the construction business, City of Cape Town official Wendy Kloppers was gunned down in Delft, at the Symphony Way Housing Project building site, on 16 February. Daily Maverick has learnt that the hit on Kloppers may have been a case of mistaken identity.

Web of violence

It is amid these construction-related attacks that an intricate web of violence is unfurling, with strands attached to incidents dating back several years and ranging from arrests linked to the international perlemoen trade to a mob smashing up luxury vehicles in a city motor dealership.

Recent shootings in Cape Town, March 2023. Created in April via Canva. (Image: Supplied)

It hints at the interconnectedness of various crimes, as well as suspects and targets, and how easily innocent residents in Cape Town can be caught up in underworld violence.

Politically, the DA runs the city. However, the ANC government oversees the South African Police Service. This is a frequent source of friction between the two parties.

Gangsters, taxis, nightclubs and construction

In terms of construction mafia-type crimes, these are not specific to Cape Town and form a broader problem across South Africa. Recently, though, issues relating to construction sites have escalated in the city.

Daily Maverick has previously reported on how gangsters in Cape Town have for decades demanded so-called “protection fees” – money in exchange for not attacking certain targets – from taxi drivers who use certain routes, to nightclubs where they insist the “security personnel” of their choice be used.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The Enforcers – Inside Cape Town’s Deadly Nightclub Battles

Extortion-style crimes have extended to construction sites. In 2015, it was reported that the City of Cape Town admitted its subcontractors may have employed gangsters to provide security at sites in Manenberg, a suburb where gang violence is prevalent.

Gang activities, suspected and otherwise, at construction sites have persisted. To address the growing problem of construction-linked extortion and violence, the City of Cape Town announced in February that R15-million had been added to its security budget to bolster the protection of construction sites.

Raided, suspended, fired

But the city’s attempts to appear proactive in dealing with the issue were dealt something of a blow on 15 March when police raided human settlements MMC Malusi Booi’s offices. The cops seized electronic equipment and documents as part of a fraud and corruption investigation.

Booi was suspended and subsequently fired from the mayoral committee. He has not spoken publicly about what happened.

The Sunday Times this week reported that the police’s application for a search warrant relating to Booi stated that officers needed [electronic] devices so they could be searched for names including those of alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen.

Stanfield is an accused in a case involving allegations of fraudulent firearm licences and police corruption. Booysen is an accused in a murder and drug case, and is involved in the property industry.

Neither has been convicted, but both have previously been wounded in shootings. According to what has previously emerged in Cape Town court cases, the Sexy Boys and 28s gangsters do not see eye-to-eye.

Gang suspicions

Last month, Daily Maverick reported that the City of Cape Town, via the Western Cape government, was still doing business with Glomix House Brokers – its director is Stanfield’s wife, Nicole Johnson.

She also faced firearm-related allegations and has not been convicted.

The city and Western Cape government appear to view her company as above board.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Company previously flagged over ‘28s gang’ suspicions still building houses for Western Cape government

Several years ago, Glomix was awarded a tender relating to a housing project in Valhalla Park. A Western Cape High Court judgment from 2020, about a double murder that happened there, said “the Stanfield family… control the 28s in the Valhalla Park area”.

In 2019 it was reported that residents had complained that 28s gangsters allegedly robbed the Valhalla Park housing project’s previous contractor, which was also forced to pay so-called “protection fees.” Glomix was subsequently appointed to work on another city housing project, and this was scheduled to be completed in 2024.

While construction issues have unfolded in Cape Town, and while the Booi saga is developing, there has been a spate of shootings across the city. Police are investigating the motives behind them.

Shootings across suburbs

Daily Maverick understands that on 2 March a suspected senior 28s gangster was murdered in a shooting in the suburb of Belhar, a stronghold of the Sexy Boys gang.

On 10 March, a shooting was reported on a highway in the vicinity of Somerset West outside Cape Town. Two men were wounded.

Police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk told Daily Maverick: “Circumstances surrounding this shooting incident are under investigation… The docket was transferred to the Anti-Gang Unit for further investigation.”

That implies the shooting was gang-related. Daily Maverick understands one of the wounded men had previously been acquitted in a case relating to murder and was known to associate with Western Cape organised crime suspects.

Smashed luxury cars

Three days after that shooting, on 13 March, another man was murdered on Hindle Road near Blikkiesdorp in Delft, where violence linked to construction sites has flared. The man, later identified as Stanfield’s cousin, Simon, was shot several times while sitting in a vehicle.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi told Daily Maverick the suspected shooter had been in a white Ford Icon.

“The motive for the attack is yet to be determined,” he said. “Delft police are investigating a murder.”

Simon Stanfield had previous brushes with the law. According to Independent Online, he was one of a group of 10 men arrested over the smashing of luxury cars at a dealership in the Cape Town suburb of Milnerton in February 2021. Charges against them were later dropped.

At the time, there were suspicions in police circles the incident may have been a show of force against an individual targeted by the 28s.

Murder at a restaurant

Three days after Simon Stanfield was killed, another murder took place on 16 March at a restaurant in Mowbray, Cape Town. Denver Langenhoven was killed and a person believed to be a restaurant patron was wounded in that attack.

Daily Maverick understands Langenhoven had been using the vehicle of an organised crime suspect at the time he was targeted. Police are investigating and no arrests have been made.

Langenhoven had previously found himself on the wrong side of the law and, based on a police statement and Western Cape High Court papers, was involved in international abalone smuggling. In November 2020, police announced that Langenhoven had been sentenced to 14 years in jail in relation to the Prevention of Organised Crime Act; 10 years for contravening the Marine Living Resources Act, and three years for fraud. The sentences were concurrent, meaning he was to spend a total of 14 years in jail.

China and Hong Kong perlemoen links

It was not clear why he was not in custody at the time of his murder. Langenhoven had been among a group of suspects arrested nearly two decades earlier, in 2006.

The police statement said: “This was when the now-defunct Directorate of Special Operations, known as Scorpions, raided export companies which were dealing with illegal abalone exports concealed in containers and shipped to China.”

Langenhoven was also referenced in a Western Cape High Court judgment, dating back to 2014, against an abalone syndicate suspect.

“Another big role player, who was an ‘associate’ of… two Chinese men, was one Denver Langenhoven, who had a cooling facility in [the Cape Town suburb of] Woodstock and handled all the export administration, packaging and freezing of the abalone,” the judgment said.

“The abalone would, after processing and packaging, be exported to Hong Kong.”

‘Numerous gunshots’

Nearly two weeks after Langenhoven was murdered, another shooting took place on 31 March. Daily Maverick understands a relative of the organised crime suspect, whose vehicle Langehoven had been using at the time he was killed, was targeted.

cape town shootings

A motorist driving along Symphony Way in Cape Town was shot at, but not injured, on 31 March 2023. (Photo: Supplied)

Police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi confirmed to Daily Maverick that a 26-year-old man had been driving along Symphony Way when “the occupants of a white Iveco panel van fired numerous gunshots at the driver of a grey Audi R8”.

The driver was not wounded.

Swartbooi said the motive for the attack was yet to be determined.

An attempted murder case was under investigation by the police in Belhar, the suburb claimed by the Sexy Boys as their turf. DM

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