/ 16 January 1998

Death of a mother’s `Mr Majestic’

Andy Duffy

Colin Stanfield is expected to return to his Cape Flats roots this weekend to meet the mother of a 22-year-old who died on his doorstep.

Stanfield has done well from his time leading the powerful gang cartel, The Firm. The alleged drug baron lives in a plush house in Baltinore Road, one of the more affluent addresses of Rondebosch East, on the outskirts of the Cape Flats.

Yusuf McKenzie, however, was just starting out. The youngster had been through a number of jobs before his friends suggested he do security work for Stanfield. McKenzie saw the job as his ticket out of the dismal township of Valhalla Park. He died at the end of his shift last Sunday morning in a volley of bullets sprayed at Stanfield’s house.

The attack is one of several strikes since the start of the new year, in which 20 people have died. Latest police figures show the Cape Flats is being battered daily by gangster and vigilante violence: since early October until this Thursday, the tally stood at 53 dead and 113 injured in the conflict. Just five people have been arrested in connection with the killings.

Police believe recent murders around Elsies River and Belhar — latest death toll 10 — are the results of a turf war between the 28s gang and the Sexy Boys over lucrative taxi routes.

But the McKenzie murder may signify a new element in the conflict. Such is Stanfield’s influence that attempting to hit the man, particularly on his own suburban doorstep, is seen as way out of line for normal gangster warfare. The killers sped away in a white VW Golf, the same description of the car used in a drive-by shooting hours later in front of a Woodstock crack-house, in which one person died and four were injured. A similar shooting claimed another life in Woodstock on Thursday morning.

The police special task unit, set up specifically to investigate gangster and vigilante violence, talks about the near “professional” manner of such hits — that the killers make sure they kill before speeding off.

“There’s a definite new tendency developing,” says one officer. “It’s the audacity. Who on the Cape Flats in their right mind would hit Stanfield in the first place? We’re baffled.”

Other high-profile strikes also seem to have the police stumped. These include the attack on Hard Livings leader Rashied Staggie’s Sea Point house on New Year’s Eve, where four people died, and the fatal shooting of acting Americans leader, Edmund Herold.

Last week, serious violent crimes division head Leonard Knipe said police believed the killings were sparked by rivalry between the two gangs. Now, he says, more radical elements of People against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) have been brought back into contention. Or maybe it’s vigilantes pretending to be gangsters, or perhaps gangsters killing under the Pagad banner.

“There’s an element of truth in all of these [ideas],” Knipe adds.

Bereaved mother Samaya McKenzie is frightened to speak out about the company her son kept. But she doesn’t hold Stanfield in any way responsible for his death.

“I think it was Pagad. We’re Moslem, and they’re Moslem. I really don’t understand anymore what the truth is about anything. I think it’s going to get worse.”

Yusuf McKenzie was the youngest of six children. He rarely worried his mother about his work, preferring to charm her instead with his dress sense. “He was a cat,” she says. “I called him Mr Majestic.”

And then just before Christmas, he did worry her, suggesting he apply for a gun licence. Police also raided the McKenzie house in a vain search for illegal arms. “I told him: `If they’re going to put a gun into your hand then you belong to them; you’ve signed the paper.'”

He worked the nightshift for Stanfield, normally returning home by nine. Last Sunday morning, however, he did not come home. Instead, Stanfield’s sister contacted his mother for Yusuf’s surname and his men came by and drove her to Baltinore Road. Police came to interview her two days later. She could not help them.

Knipe says police are being hampered because they must hunt as hard for witnesses as for suspects. “We’re not even getting co-operation from victims.” There has also been a sudden increase in the amount of dud information fed back through informers.

Comments from Pagad and the gangster community suggests their representatives at least are not totally clear about what’s happening. Pagad says it thinks none of the strikes are down to its members or sympathisers, “but we cannot guarantee it”.

Stanfield was unavailable, but a representative for Staggie says: “People are dying for nothing.”

McKenzie saw her son just before his funeral. “He looked beautiful,” she says. “So peaceful.” Under Muslim law, she could not attend the ceremony, but among the mourners were the same gangsters her son worked with, and the same school friends who had encouraged him. Yusuf McKenzie’s two-year-old son also watched his father buried.

“I’ve been told I have to accept it was my son’s time,”she says. “I wish I could speak freely for myself and other people who are suffering.”