Police say that they are not ruling out extortion as the motive for last week’s attack at a Brooklyn car dealership.
On Wednesday February 17, about 40 men barged into The Toy Shop, where, according to provincial SAPS spokeswoman, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, they threatened the employees with guns and demanded two cars.
“They were not given vehicles. Afterwards, the suspects smashed windows and lights of vehicles on display. Eight vehicles were damaged, employees were robbed of their cellular phones. The possibility that the incident is extortion related cannot be ruled out. Police detectives are following up leads to trace the suspects involved in the incident. Cases of business robbery and malicious damage to property were opened for investigation,” she said.
In a recent radio interview, Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said it was not a typical robbery.
“We believe there’s more to the story, and it was obviously a warning to the owner of the business.
“We’re not going to have hooligans go around businesses extorting people, we believe that extortion is not ruled out… I can’t elaborate too much on the investigation, it’s early days, but as I said, our detectives are looking at all the possibilities.”
In the past year, there have been several accounts of extortion in Cape Town, with gangsters demanding a “protection fee” from businesses owners and others they deem to have cash on hand (“Joe Slovo shop owners complain about extortion,” Tabletalk, October 28, 2020).
An employee at The Toy Shop, who did not want to reveal his identity, said the business did not wish to comment.
Fay Vogel, a Brooklyn resident and member of the Brooklyn, Ysterplaat and Rugby Residents’ Association, said many in the neighbourhood were too afraid to speak up about crime and other problems.
“People in this neighbourhood like to stay anonymous, and that is why we can never get rid of a lot of issues we face here. Unfortunately, we can’t tackle issues here because people are either unwilling to come forward, whether that is for smaller things like logging C3 notifications for municipal complaints, or crime,” she said.
Tony Mafa, of Brooklyn, believes businesses in the neighbourhood have fallen prey to an extortion syndicate but won’t speak up.
“Gangsters are holding honest and hard-working people at ransom in our city. You usually see this sort of thing in the movies or those underground shady dealings in Long Street. We never thought we’d see this in our neck of the woods. Our police need to do more to protect people’s businesses from this kind of thing,” he said.