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If gangs have infiltrated the Western Cape SAPS to the highest levels, it is capture of the worst kind


Alan Winde is Western Cape Premier.

Judge Daniel Thulare’s judgment in the Western Cape high court that gangs have infiltrated the SA Police Service up to the highest levels confirmed our worst fears. This is toxic corruption.

It has been the source of many rumours: Police in cahoots with gangsters. For years we have heard stories of some police officers working with gangs, for various nefarious reasons, from running drug syndicates to extortion rings.

In my many public engagements across the Western Cape, I would listen to angry and scared community members telling me: “That house over there is a drug den. The man who lives there is a known gangster.”

When I would ask why the police have not taken action, I would get the same answer: “You can’t trust them.”

These street corner whispers could easily have been treated as nothing more than rumours or gossip. That was until a damning ruling recently delivered in the Western Cape high court confirmed our worst fears. This extract from the judgment by Judge Daniel Thulare summed up the long-standing suspicions that have lingered in so many of our communities for so many years:

“The evidence suggests not only a capture of some lower ranking officers in the SAPS. 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 them in the study of crime, develop crime prevention strategies and decide 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. The evidence further shows that the 28 gang and the Mobsters [gang] in particular are breathing heavily on the necks of public prosecutors who guide the investigation of organised crime and institute criminal proceedings against its members. Such prosecutors are under a constant and permanent threat to their lives and that of their close families.

“The evidence also shows that the Mobsters have now moved gear upwards and are interfering with the decorum of the courts and the independence of judicial officers, and testing the judicial oath of office, especially the words ‘without fear’.”

I was deeply distressed to read that word which has become all too familiar to South Africans, “capture”. This time in the context of a critical public service, the South African Police Services (SAPS) being taken over by criminals.

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“State Capture” has become a devastating addition to our national lexicon, applied to state-run entities like Eskom and Transnet. Now we are seeing disturbing evidence of the SAPS, being captured not by businesspeople with questionable ethics or rotten politicians, but by hardened gangsters. The very same people who terrorise our communities, who think nothing of indiscriminately opening fire in public places often wounding or killing innocent people, among them children.

To my knowledge, this is the first credible, impartial confirmation of what so many people have suspected and told me over the years. Here was not just a piece of investigative journalism detailing the extent of the rot, but a court ruling outlining evidence of some members of the SAPS working hand-in-hand with gangsters.

When I read the Daily Maverick article that has now exposed this apparent “capture” of the police service, I had to act. While Western Cape Police Oversight and Community Safety Minister Reagen Allen raised the contents of the judgment in a discussion with the Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, I felt more needed to be done.

I requested the Provincial Police Ombud Oswald Reddy to investigate whether a commission of inquiry should be established to probe these alleged links between some police officers and gangs. We eagerly await the outcome of this probe before announcing our next steps.

I know the grave concerns this matter raises are shared by honest, hard-working SAPS members. Some might have an idea of who in their ranks have been corrupted, many of whom could be their superiors, as alleged by the judgement.

How demoralising this must be, not just for the honest officers but for the people they serve, who feel abandoned due to this toxic corruption. As Minister Allen put it: “The SAPS officers allegedly implicated do not deserve their blue uniform.”

How disheartening it must be for honest women and men in blue to carry on with this difficult job knowing some of their own are part of the problem.

I was recently on a patrol with community crime fighters in Lentegeur, Mitchell’s Plain. During the patrol, I was taken to the scene where a man was shot dead and then to a house that had been petrol-bombed, apparently in retaliation for the shooting, which is said to be gang-related. Residents told me of their fear of even leaving their homes to go the shop.

I have heard all too often similar stories throughout Cape Town and the province. It was another tragic reminder of how gangsterism continues to run rampant in too many of our communities. And if this judgment is anything to go by, how are we to make these affected communities safer if there are senior police officials being corrupted by gangs?

I have asked the provincial Police Ombud to report back to me within the next two weeks and I will report back to the residents of the Western Cape on his initial findings.

But we also need to put the spotlight on Police Minister Bheki Cele, and possibly his predecessors, to ask what is he doing now and what has been done to tackle this alleged corruption.

The minister’s silence on this judgment is deafening and adds further fuel to our call for the devolution of policing to the provinces, where we are able to respond faster and with greater rigour to the right of our residents to live in peaceful and safe communities. DM


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  • Dennis Bailey says:

    SAPS are thugs across the country. If Cape has some good cops, send a few to KZN, where there are none. Whenever SAPS arrive in KZN, we duck for cover. SAPS, in our experience, are trigger-happy thugs who need to be disbanded and replaced with security officials who are law enforcers who can investigate crime and prove wrongdoing in court. Anything less, like SAPS, is a waste of taxpayers rands.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    Capture by white collar criminals is the same as gangsters because behind the white collar criminals are hitmen that carry out the dirty work of the invisible white collar criminals. The case can be seen in the Babeta Deokran case and only the foot soldiers get prosecuted if and when caught. The lack of prosecutions in many cases here in Gauteng and with its government according to Jack Bloom sitting on many SIU reports and refusing to publish them tells you of a serious mafia type that has captured government. Capture by any type of the criminals is very dangerous and has inherent violence with whistleblowers being eliminated and the worst thing is that the capture by the political class not only destroys the law enforcement capacity but the ability to prosecute those who have ransacked billions from state institutions.
    It is not devolution of police powers that is require but effective and efficient law enforcement and the weeding out of corrupt elements from the police force. For the DA to always insert devolution of powers on very serious national issues is not only irresponsible but diversion from the discussion necessary to deal with
    the serious problem that is not a Western Cape problem only. This attempt to have federalism by stealth by the DA will not wash and there is no Republic of the Western Cape within South Africa. The issue of policing has to be dealt with nationally as is it is a national problem and competence.

  • Roy Haines says:

    Dear Premier Winde, why has it taken so long for action against these crooked cops to happen? This problem has been reported in the press for years! Let us sincerely hope that this investigation will be successful and that some proper action against these perpetrators is taken.

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