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ANALYSIS

‘94 murders in 3 days’ — Western Cape ‘war zone’ killings exceed European country’s annual fatal shootings

‘94 murders in 3 days’ — Western Cape ‘war zone’ killings exceed European country’s annual fatal shootings
Suspected Americans gang boss Mogamat Sadeka Madatt was murdered on 1 April. (Photo: Supplied) I Mothers during the Moms Move for Justice march on 1 August, 2019. (Photo: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images) I A bullet hole in a window in Manenberg. (Photo: Brenton Geach/Gallo Images)

Shootings have increased in the Western Cape. The police have acknowledged the surge in violence and are trying to tackle it. But the number of people being killed remains alarmingly and tragically high.

Thirty-three people were murdered — most of them either stabbed or shot — in the Western Cape from around 5am on 31 March to roughly the same time the next day.

And over about 72 hours, between 29 March and 1 April, 94 people were killed in the province.

This means that on average, one person was murdered every hour in the Western Cape over two days, with two people being killed nearly every hour on the third day.

The number of murders is an increase from earlier this year when between 24 and 25 February, 12 people were killed.

Daily Maverick has established that statistics, compiled within the South African Police Service (SAPS) and which have not been officially released, show this.

It is understood that among those murdered was: someone who others had accused of crime, someone who tried to intervene in a fight and several individuals whose lifeless bodies, penetrated by bullets or blades, were found by cops.

On Friday, 5 April 2024, Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut could not confirm the statistics.

Official statistics embargo

“Crime statistics are not disclosed ahead of the official quarterly release by the Police Minister,” he told Daily Maverick.

“It is on this basis that the figures cited in your enquiry cannot be confirmed.”

Traut, in response to Daily Maverick asking what was being done to address bloodshed, referenced two previous statements the Western Cape police issued about how they were trying to “bring an end to the violence in the province”.

While the Western Cape is known as South Africa’s gangsterism capital due to related violence, we should still be alarmed.

Very alarmed.

Residents have, over the past few weeks, described to Daily Maverick how living in violent hotspots is like living in the middle of a war.

Annual fatal shootings

When looking at what is happening through a global lens, the Western Cape crime statistics that have not yet been officially released still stand out.

It is a situation of compare (not to detract from what is happening elsewhere) and despair.

For example, at the end of 2022, Reuters reported that during that year a record 60 people were fatally shot in Sweden, where gang violence has also become a major problem.

The Guardian last year reported that 11 people were killed there in September making it “the worst month for shooting deaths in Sweden since records began in 2016”.

This means that the Western Cape, a province within South Africa, recorded more murders over three days this year than the number of shooting killings in Sweden, a whole country, experienced in 2022.

Over 24 hours, the province also recorded three times as many murders as the number of shooting deaths recorded in Sweden in September last year.

According to Statistics South Africa, the Western Cape had a population of about 7.4-million, while the Swedish government said its country’s population stood at more than 10.5-million.

Warzones

In terms of the Russia-Ukraine war, a United Nations Security Council briefing on the situation in Ukraine said that 28 people were reportedly killed there on 3 February when a building housing a bakery was shelled.

According to the statistics that have not yet been officially released, the number of people murdered in the Western Cape in 24 hours at the end of March — 33 — therefore basically equates to the number of civilians killed in a shelling in a warzone.

As for the Israel-Gaza war, Al Jazeera reported in February: “At least 107 Palestinians were killed… between Monday and Tuesday, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.”

That is while, based on the unreleased statistics, 94 people were murdered in the Western Cape over three days leading to the start of this month.

The surge in overt violence in the province is not totally new or unacknowledged.

Recurring violence

It is not unusual to read news headed along the lines of “three killed, one wounded in gang hotspot” or “alleged gang boss gunned down in suspected hit”.

Worse still is when children are caught up in gang crossfire.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Our children are dying like flies’ — mothers grieve as gang-related deaths grip Western Cape

It happens. We know it. Many of our lives go on.

(Imperceptible trauma, affecting those directly and indirectly impacted by gangsterism and gun violence, also goes on.)

In February this year, Police Minister Bheki Cele released South Africa’s third quarter crime statistics, covering the period from 1 October to 31 December 2023.

He said four out of five police stations in the country, deemed among the top in terms of murders reported, were in the Western Cape.

Cele, who started out his speech saying it “takes place at a time when the tide is turning against crime,” also dropped something of a bomb when referencing gangsterism and the province.

250 gang murders

“It is… concerning that of the 268 gang-related murders, 250 of these murders were reported in the Western Cape,” he said.

This means an outright majority of gang killings happened in the province.

The SAPS has been grappling with the problem.

On 18 March the Western Cape’s police also announced that they had increased operations to try and clamp down on violence, which had surged.

“In light of recent shooting incidents that occurred on some parts of the Cape Flats, Western Cape police have bolstered deployments at identified hotspots,” a statement said.

“The additional deployments in the form of members from the Anti-Gang Unit, Tactical Response Teams, Operation Lockdown II, Operation Restore and Public Order Police have descended on identified locations on the Cape Flats…

“The intervention follows incidents where murder and attempted murders cases registered, indicate a spike in shooting incidents that saw a significant number of individuals shot in Mitchells Plain, Bishop Lavis, Philippi, Ravensmead and Elsie’s River.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Gang boss’ Madatt murdered in Cape Town, sparks more fears of Fancy Boys vs Americans fight

On 4 April 2024, police seized a semi-automatic weapon and ammunition from a suspect following a shooting in Bishop Lavis.

And in one of the latest murders likely to spark further friction among gangsters, suspected Americans gang boss Mogamat Sadeka Madatt (sometimes spelt Moegamat Sadaka Madatt) was shot in the Kapteinsklip informal settlement in Mitchells Plain on 1 April.

It was believed members of the rival Fancy Boys gang targeted him.

Residents in Mitchells Plain told Daily Maverick they feared retaliatory attacks and shootouts between the Americans and the Fancy Boys gang.

Politics

Based on what Western Cape police stated last month, violence is still concentrated in historic gang hotspots.

Many of those areas, known as the Cape Flats, are where non-white residents were forced to live under the apartheid regime.

But Daily Maverick has previously reported on how organised crime stretches out much further than those suburbs.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Gangstas’ Paradise – how the ‘bullet rule’ of gangsters is strangling the life out of SA’s Mother City

It may just not be as noticeable in other areas.

Crimes, like money laundering and certain types of corruption, are not as overt.

The recent violence across the Western Cape, particularly around Cape Town, comes ahead of the elections at the end of May.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Ears to the ground’ will help monitor possible WC gang violence on election day – IEC

Crime and related statistics provide fuel that can fire up politicians who either make bold statements about how they can tackle the crisis or criticise the opposition about how they are failing to do so.

Cape Town has a deep history of overlaps between crime, politics and policing.

The City of Cape Town is DA-run and has a metro police service, while the ANC heads the national government and therefore the SAPS, the overall authority responsible for law enforcement in the country.

Cop collusion

But the reputation of the SAPS often takes beatings.

Infighting has rocked it.

In the Western Cape, in 2022, a high court judge also found that evidence in a gangsterism case suggested 28s gangsters had infiltrated the province’s police.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 28s gang ‘capture’ top Western Cape cops, prosecutors’ lives at risk – judge sounds corruption alarm

There are other problems.

Recently, Daily Maverick reported on how 15 firearms linked to the Mitchells Plain police station — in the suburb which cops have flagged in terms of a surge in violence and where Madatt was murdered — could not be accounted for.

It was not the first time there was a scandal involving missing guns and the station.

Western Cape firearm seizure

Western Cape police firearm seizure conducted by SAPS. (Photo: SAPS)

Policing powers

Meanwhile, it is clear the DA wants more policing powers in the Western Cape.

In a statement in February, referencing issues including the Mitchell’s Plain police firearms fiasco, Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis called for the devolution of policing powers.

“All of these mounting and unacceptable failures only underscore why the devolution of policing powers to the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town is more urgent and necessary than ever,” he said.

“The ANC is unable to run the police in the Western Cape, and evidence thereof is piling up almost daily.

“Policing needs to be run by a competent government to ensure that people are safe.”

In November last year, DA leader John Steenhuisen also spoke about the issue.

He said: “While ANC cadres rob citizens blind in other provinces, in this province, we do not tolerate cadre deployment or corruption…

“Every life lost on the Cape Flats is a tragedy for all of us, and strengthens the DA’s resolve to wipe out criminality.”

But like the ANC, the DA under the umbrella of the City of Cape Town is not squeaky clean of criminal suspicions.

City suspicions

Last month Daily Maverick reported how Reynold Talmakkies, a Safety and Security Directorate officer in the City of Cape Town, was facing mounting accusations including criminal charges.

He retired on the same day a disciplinary hearing was set to commence against him.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town investigator Talmakkies dodges critical disciplinary hearing day with retirement announcement

Then there is the issue of the City of Cape Town’s human settlements department.

It has become entangled in suspicions relating to collusion between officials and crime suspects.

City Manager Lungelo Mbandazayo previously told IOL some human settlements officials had been suspended while others faced disciplinaries.

He said officials had been “tailor-making tenders before they went out so those same companies could easily apply and be granted those tenders”.

Organised crime investigations

In March last year, Malusi Booi was fired from the post of mayoral committee member for human settlements after his City of Cape Town office was raided during a fraud and corruption investigation.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘I want to live my life’ — ex-Cape Town mayco member Malusi Booi quits as councillor seven months after police raid

The name of alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield cropped up in that investigation.

Last year the City, which was doing business with Stanfield’s wife Nicole Johnson, blacklisted seven companies linked to her.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SAPS, City of CT scandals ‘linked’ to Ralph Stanfield investigations grow

In January the City also confirmed it dismissed its public housing director, Siphokazi September.

While it did not say why, Daily Maverick understands that when police wanted to search Booi’s office, they had also flagged hers.

Dead ends

And so, suspicions relating to collusion snake into both the City and the SAPS, which are involved in trying to quell organised crime in a province where the scourge has become an ominous trademark.

In February, Hill-Lewis, speaking about policing failures, said: “You cannot live a life of dignity and prosperity if you live in constant fear”.

The reality on the ground, though, in the Western Cape, is that many people are not even getting to live.

Scrape away politics, policing issues and the many reasons fuelling violence in the province.

The fact remains that 94 lives were violently ended in just three days. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Martin Botha says:

    ANC unable to contain the violence in the WC and that goes for criminality in the rest of SA.

    • simphiwe dzina says:

      THE BEST RUN PROVINCE IN THE COUNTRY…WHERE DA RULES…..and they actually do believe that….i mean sincerely DO believe that….and then when they read such news ..it does not stop them on their tracks and say ” hold on, maybe there is something we are not taking serious enough here”….instead they go around and say ” ANC tis …and ANC that…”

      • Michael M. says:

        I’m sorry, but I feel compelled to reply to this ridiculous comment. I am not even from South Africa, but a cursory amount of research allowed me to learn that provincial safety departments, such as the Western Cape Dept of Policing Oversight & Community Safety, have no policing authority at all; they can, at most, seemingly, track crime and try to liaise with national government.

        Next there are municipal/metro police depts who also are limited in policing power. They are only granted certain authority by the national government – to enforce traffic laws and municipal bylaws. They cannot do anything else; including anything about murder or major crime. They cannot investigate it or respond to it. That’s the extent of the policing powers the provincial or municipal governments have; they are also the DA-controlled levels of government.

        SAPS, the national police force, has the primary policing authority and responsibility nationwide and reports to the national government, run by the ANC, meaning the ANC is responsible for policing, which appears to be an abysmal failure. Only the national government, the ANC, has the power to authorize differently – only nat’l gov has paper to grant municipal police more powers or authorize provincial police forces. Again, that’s ANC, who are wholly responsible as the DA’s hands are tied.

        It is unfortunate you do not seem to know how things work nor have you took the minimal effort to learn. Your comment is very unproductive.

      • Tshepiso Ramushu says:

        The Delusional Alliance.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Unfortunately, with the number of South Africans able to view the world only through the fogged up glasses of racial prejudice it is true that real improvement may well be impossible, so in that sense you may sadly be correct.

          Don’t worry though, because in the South Africa you are determined to create, everyone will be equally screwed and we can toast your success together in the dark with poisoned water.

      • John Kannemeyer says:

        Last time i checked SAPS is a national function not a provincial one, so yes this is the responsibility of central government, i.e. the ANC.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Correctly. Because it is the ANC, and if you don’t see it then you are voting based on race only, you are certainly not using your eyes or your brain.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Also, as it apparently isn’t obvious to you from reading this article …if you even did… that the DA DOES take the problem very seriously, and IS doing everything possible to try and get the power needed to begin resolving it.

        But actually, the problem is not the gangs. They are just a symptom of the true problem – which is that our ANC government is both corrupt and incapable.

        So @simphiwe if you would like a better South Africa the I suggest you vote DA …or you can continue to sit in the dark, drinking poisoned water and watch our country implode around you.

        • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

          This is not a DA problem at all it lies squarely on government whose ruling party is the ANC.
          I am not campaigning for any one but the blame must go to the right place.

        • ST ST says:

          If memory serves, gangs and drugs in the Western Cape predates the ANC rule. If international lessons are anything to go by, once entrenched, they are harder to root out, regardless of who is in charge. Hence the many organisations that keep creeping up globally to deal with drugs and gangs. Even the DA or whomever takes over SA rule will have to deal with that.

      • William Dryden says:

        Simphiwe, you are just another ANC lover with perhaps your T shirt and KFC streetwise 3, hence we will have to vote hard this year to get rid of them, obviously without your help.

  • Alan Jeffrey says:

    “While the Western Cape is known as South Africa’s gangsterism capital due to related violence, we should still be alarmed. ”
    Not quite sure I understand this sentence? In similar cases such a statement might more often be followed by “..we should NOT be alarmed (as the Police are on it) ” or even “.. we should be more alarmed ! ‘” if it becomes even worse despite police intervention, however we are already alarmed and in the ordinary course of events we will naturally remain alarmed, so why are we being told that we need to remain alarmed?
    ..or am i being pedantic?

  • ST ST says:

    What a sad existence for South Africans. Between this story, the Vincent Cruywagen story, and Luke Fleurs loss…utter despair. If one province rats higher than a war zone in 3 days…scary to think how much higher adding the rest of the country. I may start reading the only good news. This is overwhelming just reading it. Can only imagine what it must be like for family, friends and communities of the innocent people. A ongoing SA legacy of crimes against humanity.

  • Christopher Nicholas Hodson says:

    Crime on the Cape Flats constitutes a nightmare of the first order. Beke Cele constitutes a nightmare of the second order!! He should be fired and somebody – a professional – who cares less about his appearance and more about his performance should be appointed post haste.

    Nick H

  • Shaun Slayer says:

    Between October and December 2023, Gauteng witnessed a surge in contact crimes, according to statistics released by provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Tommy Mthombeni on Tuesday. The province recorded an increase in contact crimes, with figures climbing from 50 039 in 2022 to 51 327 in 2023, marking a rise of 1 288 counts. Attempted murder increased by 152 counts (1,625 in 2022 compared to 1,777 in 2023), while murder itself saw an increase of 66 counts (1,721 in 2022 compared to 1,787 in 2023). My thoughts, no wonder the Western Cape is finding it hard to accommodate all the new home seekers as Gauteng is way worse than Sweden Israel and Ukraine combined.

  • simphiwe dzina says:

    “the best run province in the country”….thats their number 1 slogan.

  • Rae Earl says:

    The SAPS is hopelessly out of touch and this is the nett result. Ramping crime and unchecked gangsterism. We can lay the blame at the feet of one person. The ridiculously hatted clown named Bheki Cele. He should have a war room in place with officers qualified to read and react to intelligence reports followed by deployment of police officers trained in anti gangsterism warfare. What does he do instead? He runs from one crime scene to the next and makes pointless and inane comments. All under the brim of that ridiculous hat. FFS! Does he have any idea?

  • Hello There says:

    This is only going to get worse as the rest of SA is accelerating an already fast rate of decline. While the WC is currently a poster child, in comparison to the other provinces, as far as e.g. economic and job growth is concerned, it will be crushed by the semigration influx that is on the cards. Squatter camps and illegal settlements will sprout and with it crime…

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      This is why the DA must be voted into power nationally. Anything else will just mean people flood to where the DA rule, overburdening local infrastructure and negating all positive gains.

      Vote DA everywhere people – it is best for everyone of all races and all socio-economic groups in our country.

      It is truly the only thing each of us needs to in order to rescue our failing country.

      • Hello There says:

        I am afraid that the DA has had its chances in the past but the arrival on the scene of a plethora of new parties is eating its pie. I think they may also lose hold on the WC, if not this year then certainly over time…

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          We are the DA’s chance. You are.

          And if you think a “plethora” of anything is going to resolve our country’s problems, you are sadly mistaken and you doom everyone to disappointment.

          (and I don’t for a moment think the DA will lose the WC – I will certainly take you a side bet on that if you like 😉 )

      • Rama Chandra says:

        Until Helen Ziller leaves the DA for good, it is hopelessly unable to shed it’s reputation for white elitism. Rise is essentially the same policies, but led by a majority-electable candidate. It is true that one person does not make a party and that parties need to be time-tested, but to rest control from an ANC-EFF-MK coalition – the worst and most likely coalition – Rise is the best option.

    • Errol Price says:

      Sadly Correct.
      There were missed opprtunities for Federation in 1960 and 1994.
      The Cape could have been the Singapore of Africa.
      It is too late now.

  • Kevin Venter says:

    More policing is not going to fix the problem at its root. Yes it will reduce the number of deaths in the short term but the long term fix is much deeper. The reason that the gangs are able to flourish in those areas is because of two things. The kids living there live in poverty and most of them have unstable environments with absent fathers. To fix the gang problem you need an economy that can employ people to a semi-decent standard of living. If you are child who comes from an environment where you have enough (you dont have to be rich) you then don’t need a gang to give you nice clothes in exchange for being a loyal member who kills fellow South Africans. The Western Cape and its leadership on its own cannot fix the economy of the whole country where load shedding has crippled business and corruption has stolen the money.

  • ilike homophones says:

    this is a very sensible article to warn us!

    thank you

    whether it Is Lam,
    juice, gazing or bendes,
    leave them alone,
    more suurstof for us, and less carbon

    its a win-win situation

  • I fly no flag for the DA, but I think that a cynic might suggest that given the general levels of political understanding, it is the ANC’s interest to see this appalling state of affairs to continue.

  • Kevin Johnson says:

    Im an ex cop Cape Flats -mistake we all making [reasoning by analogy] Solution -Reason by first principle – ie ask different questions -eg What would we be doing if this was happening on the Atlantic seaboard ?My experience tells me it would be another main focus with definitness of purpose

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Isnt it the Anc president at the time that had a meeting with gang leaders?The gangs are connected with goverment

  • There are 4 performance options to this catastrophy:
    1. Doing the wrong things wrong
    2. Doing the wrong things right
    3. Doing the right things wrong
    4. Doing the right things right.
    I’d hazard a guess that the percentage score per option looks something like:
    1. 60 %
    2. 25 %
    3. 10 %
    4. 5%
    This mostly due to zero consequence management and scant, if any, effective leadership and operational management.

  • In Denmark, with a population a little less than Western Cape, the total number of people killed by violence in 2023 (not including traffic) was 38 persons (22 male, 16 female). 6 of these were women killed by their husbands/partners.
    I hope for South Africa that it gets violence and killings under control – otherwise I think very few from abroad will risk experiencing South Africas beautiful nature.

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