SAPS IN CRISIS
Cape Town cops snitched to ‘The Guptas’ gang, endangering mass shooting witness – judge sounds corruption alarm again
In March 2020, seven people were murdered in a mass shooting in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. A Western Cape High Court judgment now reveals that a witness said cops endangered his life by telling gangsters he had made a statement to the police.
A witness to a shooting that claimed the lives of seven people and left several others wounded, including a six-year-old girl, was hesitant to approach police officers at the scene.
This was because some of the gunmen were present, pretending to be onlookers.
Instead, the next morning, on 8 March 2020, the witness known as Mr X went to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Khayelitsha along with two others.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Six people shot dead and girl, 6, wounded in ‘ambush’ at Khayelitsha tavern
“They told [a] detective of their mistrust of some of the police at Site B police station as they socialised with [a member of The Guptas gang] and his friends,” Judge Daniel Thulare found in a judgment delivered on Wednesday, 22 November.
In those gangster-controlled streets of the townships, the Bill of Rights do not apply and a constitutional state is a myth.
“The detective wanted to take their statements but they did not give the statements as the police who they knew socialised with [The Guptas gangster] and his friends kept themselves busy close by.”
‘Guptas gang had cop informers’
Mr X eventually gave the police information, but this leaked to The Guptas gang and Mr X believed that “the Guptas had informers including within the SAPS in Khayelitsha”.
Judge Thulare found Mr X’s version of events truthful.
“Mr X did not falsely construct a sophisticated and long account of a series of related events and experiences, simply to disrupt his life and put it at risk by taunting and provoking selfish, dangerous and extremely deadly criminals who he knew had no conscience and mercy,” his judgment said.
It added that Mr X’s evidence was not the imagination of a sick mind.
‘Bullet rule’ applies
“Unfortunately, it is a true reflection of the situation in Khayelitsha. This evidence of Mr X encapsulates in miniature the characteristics of a much larger situation in Cape Town,” the judgment found.
“It is the daily lived reality of the so-called poor masses of our people. They learn from the news on radio and television that there is an authority of the State, led by the minister of police, to prevent, combat and investigate crime.
“In their reality, the gangsters’ ‘bullet rule’ applies in every inch from the street corner, through the police station, to the grave. In those gangster-controlled streets of the townships, the Bill of Rights do not apply and a constitutional state is a myth.
“The Bill of Rights and the Constitution may apply and be enjoyed elsewhere in the country, but not in the island of their misery, which are the townships of Cape Town commonly referred to as the Cape Flats.”
Cops colluding with 28s
It is Thulare’s second judgment in just more than a year that points to suspicions of police officers colluding with gangsters in Cape Town.
Read more in Daily Maverick: 28s gang ‘capture’ top Western Cape cops, prosecutors’ lives at risk – judge sounds corruption alarm
In October 2022, Daily Maverick reported on a judgment relating to another gang case in which Thulare found evidence suggesting that 28s gangsters may have infiltrated the Western Cape’s police to such an extent that even its senior management could be affected.
The gangsters may also have had access to crime-fighting plans.
This month it was also reported that since that October 2022 judgment, despite several investigations launched into its contents, the public had not been updated on whether any police officers had been found to have colluded with gangsters.
This is especially concerning because gang violence has persisted across the Western Cape.
Thulare’s latest judgment last Wednesday was delivered a day before a cop based in Kraaifontein was arrested on charges linked to extortion, causing Western Cape police commissioner Thembisile Patekile to warn officers that “concerted efforts to fight corruption within SAPS will continue”.
In response to a Daily Maverick query on last week’s judgment, Western Cape police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk said: “This office is aware of [the judgment] and the contents thereof. At this stage there has been no official complaint received in respect of the conduct of any police officer from Khayelitsha SAPS, nor have any been identified by the courts or the witness.
“Upon receipt of an official complaint the SAPS will initiate an investigation into the conduct of the members identified.”
Van Wyk added: “It is important to note that the identity of the witness is protected by order of the high court and the provision of any information to the press or media in relation to the witness may breach this order or provide clues to his identity thus placing his life in further danger.”
Police linked to Khayelitsha have previously been arrested in other cases.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Western Cape police chief warns cops as constable nabbed for allegedly helping suspect to escape
In March 2022, four members of the Khayelitsha Tactical Response Team were detained over extortion linked to an incident in Muizenberg.
Thulare’s judgment on Wednesday also dealt with, among other issues, extortion and gangsterism.
In finding Mr X’s version of events true, the judge convicted two men, Gcinithemba Beja and Fundile Maseti, of murder, attempted murder and possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition, for the March 2020 massacre in Khayelitsha.
It said that Mr X had been a friend of someone referred to simply as “N[…]1” who was also shot.
N[…]1 died while his daughter, who was six years old at the time, was wounded and was among the seven survivors.
Mr X knew N[…]1 “had a number 28 on his left upper arm and Mr X knew that it was a prison number and that numbers were well respected in the townships.”
N[…]1, together with a few friends, had broken away from the Boko Haram gang to form The Guptas gang, which may have ultimately sparked the mass shooting.
Both gangs were involved in extortion.
At the time of the shooting, Mr X had seen four men, including Beja and Maseti, firing guns.
“When he saw them they first shot from outside the yard, and then all four of them moved to the inside,” Thulare’s judgment said.
“He heard the gunshots inside the house and people were screaming… After some time the four came out, still firing, walking backwards or retreating and still facing the house.”
The next morning, on 8 March 2020, Mr X and others had gone to the police station to provide information, but decided against this because cops who were present were known to socialise with N[…]1.
Thulare’s judgment said that about two hours later, M X returned to the police alone.
“He was taken to a coloured policeman who took his statement and who promised that nothing would happen to him,” it said.
“The policeman also advised him that the case would be handed over to the provincial team for further investigation.”
As Mr X left the police station, “he met a policeman known to him as one close to the Guptas”.
That policeman addressed Mr X, saying that “[Mr X] loved the police station”.
Mr X ignored the officer.
“As he walked in the township he was asked by a number of people as to what had he done as The Guptas were looking for him,” the judgment said.
“It was when he met his sister who asked him the same question and told him the same message that The Guptas were looking for him that he returned to the police station.”
Mr X told the detective that “the message that he had made a statement to the police about the incident had been passed on to The Guptas” and he was “convinced that it was members of the police who informed them that he was at the police station”.
Mr X returned to the police station and was told to go home, but a detective called him, so he went back to the station where he said he knew the suspects and where they lived.
“After he left the police station, he learnt that The Guptas had now intensified their search for him…
“He then left the township and waited for the provincial detectives at a freeway. The police suggested that he be taken to the rural village from which he came in the Eastern Cape.”
The judgment said Mr X was taken somewhere safe to sleep.
Subsequently, while being transported to the Eastern Cape village, “his aunt from there called and warned him that there were people looking for him”.
“He continued to receive several calls from other family members in the Eastern Cape that he was wanted. This led to him being in witness protection from that period.”
Thulare’s judgment said some of Mr X’s experiences “explained why members of the community did not trust members of the SAPS in Khayelitsha”. DM