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Cops and Robbers: we think we know how to tell the good guys from the bad, but when it comes to Cape Town’s crime scene, things are anything but clear cut. Controlled by gangs, fuelled by drugs and policed by cops that, all too often, get caught on the wrong side of the action. 

Among the Cape Town cops who have consistently claimed that colleagues are trying to pin crimes on them are Major General Andre Lincoln (former head of a national police unit mandated by Nelson Mandela), Major General Jeremy Vearey (known as SA’s top gang buster) and Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear (who was investigating some of the country’s most brutal underworld crimes when he was assassinated in September 2020). Colleagues and suspects alike pointed to all three as colluding with criminals. Who is telling the truth? 

Journalist Caryn Dolley has tracked this tangled trail, following the corruption breadcrumbs, sifting through court documents, laying fact upon fact and exposing the depths and breadth of systemic corruption that was set in place during apartheid and has only become more entrenched during the first decades of our democracy. She has traced the rot from cops to underworld to politicians and back, exposing duplicitous networks that have for decades ensnared South Africa in an expanding cycle of organised crime and cop claim crossfire. At the centre of this crisis is the mounting collateral: the victims of Cape Town’s manufactured killing fields.

To The Wolves tells the true life story of how South Africa’s underworld came to be, what continues to fuel it today and how the deception and lies go all the way to the top…


Award-winning investigative journalist Caryn Dolley has worked for numerous print and online newsrooms including News24, the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, Open Secrets and now, Daily Maverick. In 2012, after covering countless crimes and court cases, she started reporting on interlinked underworld-related matters. In June 2019, Dolley released her first book The Enforcers: Inside Cape Town's deadly nightclub battles. From late 2019 Caryn spent a year at a non-profit organisation investigating how South African ammunition companies may profit from war crimes in Yemen. She has since shifted focus back to local and global organised crime and its suspected links to the South African state.

An Excerpt From To The Wolves:

The family-friendly restaurant in a mall in Cape Town’s northern suburbs is just about to start filling up, the shrieks of children already competing with clanging crockery, frenetic chatter and the takkie-squeaks of rushed waiters. It is a Wednesday afternoon; schools have shut for the day and the bustling restaurant is a cheerful refuge as the city outside braces for the slow grind of gridlocked midweek traffic.

In a corner a man and a woman talk to each other. They are seated at a table adjacent to a nearby playpen where two children are gleefully making the most of this midweek treat.

At 2:45pm two other patrons walk into the restaurant and choose a table roughly six metres away from the chatting couple. A waiter walks up to the new patrons’ table and they make small talk as they order drinks. Exactly seven minutes later the duo suddenly gets up; one pulls a firearm from his belt and starts firing bullets at the man and woman seated nearby. The man being targeted yanks out a gun of his own and fires back. Instantly the family restaurant is transformed into a horror scene.

Children scream, confused patrons duck and terrified waiters run for cover. In the ensuing chaos the fake-patron-now-gunman fatally shoots his accomplice. The man he initially targeted is wounded; the woman and children are luckily unscathed. The restaurant is now a murder scene, red spatters across the white tiled floor lead to a pool of blood and a body. Paramedics jostle around rapidly vacated tables.

A dour detective arrives and spots a fellow officer, a portly captain. The detective is curious about the captain’s presence because as far as he’s aware the captain is not authorised to investigate the case. But this captain and another cop get involved anyway, and later arrest a suspect. This suspect then makes an astonishing claim: that two Cape Town cops, working clandestinely with organised crime suspects, were involved in orchestrating the gruesome restaurant shooting.

Access endnotes below

Caryn Dolley chats to radio host Chad Thomas


Caryn Dolley chats to radio host Lester Kiewit