AGE OF (UN)ACCOUNTABILITY ANALYSIS
The shameful silence about probes into Judge Thulare’s findings of gangster and police collusion
In October 2022, a judge warned that 28s gangsters may have infiltrated the Western Cape’s police and its management. While gang violence rages in the province, it is still not clear what has happened with investigations into that judgment.
More than a year ago, Judge Daniel Thulare sounded the alarm — in an unprecedented Western Cape Division of the High Court judgment, he warned that 28s gangsters may have gained access to the provincial police’s senior management and crimefighting plans.
A section of his 17 October 2022 judgment says: “The evidence suggests not only a capture of some lower-ranking officers in the SAPS [South African Police Service].
“The evidence suggests that the senior management of the 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.”
After Daily Maverick broke the news of the judgment last year, the SAPS said it was investigating the judge’s findings.
Read more in Daily Maverick: 28s gang ‘capture’ top Western Cape cops, prosecutors’ lives at risk – judge sounds corruption alarm
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced that the province’s police ombud, retired police officer Oswald Reddy, had been tasked with investigating whether there were links between gangsters and police officers.
However, no information has been released to the public on these investigations.
In the year since Thulare’s judgment, gang violence has continued unabated in the Western Cape, which is effectively South Africa’s gangster capital.
On 27 October 2023, barely a year after the judgment, Daily Maverick reported how mothers had lost their children to gang warfare in the past year.
Other gang-related issues surfaced recently.
Alleged 28s boss Ralph Stanfield was arrested at the end of September and the case raised questions about police involvement with suspects.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘I want to empty a gun in his head’ – chilling affidavit about alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield’s ‘plans’
During a bail application for Stanfield and his co-accused — one of whom is his wife, Nicole Johnson — in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court, a police investigator’s affidavit was read out which detailed how another police officer allegedly warned a complainant in that matter against lodging a case with the police.
About a week ago, a cousin of Stanfield’s was murdered in a shooting in Valhalla Park, a stronghold of the 28s gang — the second time a cousin of Stanfield had been slain this year.
On Tuesday, 7 November, the same day a seven-year-old boy was reportedly killed in a shooting in the Cape Town suburb of Mitchells Plain, the Western Cape’s police oversight and community safety MEC, Reagen Allen, issued a statement about the investigation into Thulare’s findings.
He said that after the judgment, he had communicated with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) which committed to launching investigations where necessary.
— Reagen Allen (@ReagenAllen) November 7, 2023
In mid-January, he said, Ipid had committed to providing continuous updates. However, “Although I have sought a response from Ipid, I have, regrettably, to this day not received any feedback.
“Their silence has and continues to be deafening, suspicious and highly problematic. I want to believe that they are not seeking to withhold information about their findings, if any.
“It is wholly problematic that Ipid has chosen to remain quiet, which can only be described as deliberate. Further options are currently being pursued, as we will not leave this matter unattended.”
On Tuesday, Daily Maverick asked Ipid whether it had investigated Thulare’s findings, but no response had been received by the time of publication.
‘No sense of urgency’
Winde has again spoken out about the issue.
“I am gravely worried that Ipid does not share our sense of urgency and the realisation that to arrest gangsterism from further infiltrating the ranks of the South African Police Service, drastic action is desperately needed,” he said on Tuesday.
(The City of Cape Town has also had to deal with allegations of gang collusion. Earlier this year, it emerged that now former mayoral committee member Malusi Booi was being investigated for possibly accepting cash from suspected underworld figures. Booi rebutted that the “allegations that do not exist” had put his life in danger.)
Last month, national police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe told Daily Maverick that SAPS head General Fannie Masemola had studied a report about “Thulare”, in reference to the judgment.
He was also looking into a report on security issues relating to the September 2020 assassination of Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear outside his home in the Cape Town suburb of Bishop Lavis, sections of which are 28s gang strongholds.
Daily Maverick has reported that at least four investigations (including one by Ipid) detailed how police colleagues had let Kinnear down by failing to act on threats and to ensure he was under state protection at the time of his murder.
Read more in Daily Maverick: AfriForum’s Gerrie Nel takes Charl Kinnear case, points to SAPS ‘cover-ups’ and failures
Like the Thulare judgment, that too has not resulted in the public being told who in the SAPS will be held to account.
A shameful decade of suspicions
Daily Maverick has reported that Thulare’s judgment focused on the Mobsters, a faction of the 28s gang.
An accused in the case was a former policeman, Alfonso Cloete, who Thulare’s judgment alleged was recruited into the Mobsters and placed in the taxi industry where managers “were threatened by the gang to accept him, failing which they would be killed”.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Cops and Mobsters — the many murky claims of Western Cape police officers cosying up to gangsters
Cloete denied being a gangster.
Thulare’s judgment said police investigators had monitored Cloete from 2011, which suggests that police bosses have been aware of this matter and the broader situation, since then at least.
Even if Ipid and the SAPS now publicise findings into Thulare’s judgment, and even if no police officers are found to have acted corruptly, it will be shameful that those details are ventilated only after prompting – and after more than a year.
During that time, bullets from gangster-held guns have cut short many lives. 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.