The Minister of Police Bheki Cele has announced the establishment of a steering committee to address what he called the extortion and victimisation of businesses in Cape Town.
The minister addressed media on Wednesday, 16 September 2020, after meeting with the Western Cape’s Community Safety Albert Fritz, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya and other members of the police top brass.
A number of business owners in the mother city, particularly pubs and coffee shops, claim criminals have been demanding ‘protection money’ from them. Cele said this was a crime which also affected the economy at large.
“While we are on the one hand trying to revive the economy of the country and these allegations are emerging that thugs and criminals are exacerbating the situation by demanding “protection money” from legitimate businesses. We certainly cannot allow this to happen on our watch,” he said.
Business owners not reporting to police
The minister said it was agreed upon at the meeting that they would approach the matter in an integrated manner. He said together with the South African Police Service (SAPS), the provincial government, the city of Cape Town as well as business in and around the city, they would incorporate human and physical resources to ensure that businesses are can operate in safe and secure environment.
“We are here today to talk to the inhabitants of the country, particularly the province of the Western Cape, of an emerging problem called “protection money” which essentially is extortion and extortion is nothing less than a crime,” he said.
Cele said an integrated response action plan is to be developed to ensure an equitable injection of resources into this project to ensure an effective proactive and reactive approach to the situation.
“I am calling this a project because there will be an end to this victimization and extortion of businesses”
The minister has also highlighted the unwillingness of business owners to inform the police on the extortion cases and urged the entrepreneurs to play their part in bringing the culprits to book.
“In order to allow us to act decisively against this situation we need to businesses to register cases with us”
Cele said he has ordered SAPS provincial management particularly the detectives to act speedily on cases registered with them.
“This is an assurance and commitment I am giving to affected businesses today that these cases will be prioritized,” he concluded.