Gangsterism goes on trial in Cape

Marianne Merten An intricate web of gangsters, anti-drug vigilantes, a schoolboy drug dealer and a suspected corrupt policeman operating in the Cape Flats underworld has emerged in Cape Town courts. Two leading members of the Americans gang are applying for bail on Friday June 8 after being arrested in connection with almost 2 000 Mandrax tablets seized from an 11-year-old schoolboy in Hanover Park last month. One of them, Igshaan “Shaanoeg” Marcus, recently testified in two separate trials of members of People against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) at the Cape High Court. On Monday a police sergeant, accused of corruption for allegedly helping the two gangsters to recover the drugs, was released on R3 000 bail by the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court. A provincial police representative said the policeman and the two gangsters offered R15 000 to police for the return of the approximately 2 000 confiscated Mandrax pills, each with a street value of R40. Sergeant Jacques Barnard, who has worked at Lansdowne police station for the past 10 years, now faces internal disciplinary proceedings and possible suspension. His station commissioner has been served with a suspension notice but the officer still has to reply. It all started on the evening of May 11 when the schoolboy was arrested with the drugs. Eight days later Marcus and Gavin Atkins were arrested at their homes. Another eight days passed before the police sergeant was taken into custody at his home on May 27. But the events that brought everyone together nn date back to April 1999. Marcus’s nn mother-in-law Adielahnnn Davids, alsonnnn known as “Mamann America” for her leadership of the Americans, was shot dead in her hairdressing salon in Grassy Park. Her daughter Marcus’s wife and another woman relative were also killed. Pagad’s alleged hit man Ebrahim Jenneker and the Maansdorp brothers, Abdullah and Ismail, are currently on trial for the murders and more than 130 other charges ranging from theft to the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. After the killings Marcus moved back to his mother’s home in Hanover Park. In June 1999 The Islanders “social club” were having a braai on a street corner when they were shot at. Three people, including a teenaged boy, died in the drive-by shooting. Marcus was among the 20 injured. Pagad members Moegamat Isaacs and three others are on trial for this attack, which came in the wake of a spree of tit-for-tat killings. Police and community sources say there has been a marked increase in drug dealing and gang turf battles in Hanover Park since Marcus returned. The jostling is happening as there is no all-powerful Americans gang leader for the area. Over the past 18 months the Americans have been fighting other gangs across the Cape Flats in areas such as Heideveld, Tafelsig and Manenberg.

In battles to control drug turfs it is common practice to use minors to carry and distribute drugs and guns, and to approach police to have dockets or evidence disappear. For example, in May 1999 28s gang boss and member of the drug cartel The Firm, Ernest “Lastig” Solomons, walked free on murder and kidnap charges. The Cape High Court heard how the investigating officer Superintendent Gert Ellis carried the Solomons docket, which was tampered with, in his briefcase for eight years. The investigator was suspended months after Judge Jeanette Traverso described him as “the least credible witness I have ever come across in my 30-year career”. The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), a statutory police watchdog, logged 12 complaints of police corruption in the Western Cape during the 2000/2001 financial year. In the previous financial year it investigated 17 cases. According to the ICD corruption includes taking bribes and theft of dockets.

ICD national representative Tsoeu Ntsane points out the watchdog can only investigate matters if the public lays a complaint. “There are maybe cases of corruption the public is not aware of,” he says. Police sources say it could be possible Barnard was set up by colleagues from the Phillippi police station. The station has been accused of neglecting its duties amid repeated allegations that some officers are collaborating with gangsters. Hanover Park community policing forum secretary Adelaide Daniels says the organisation has raised its unhappiness for a long time. “The powers that be don’t take notice. There is no consultation with the forum. There is no cooperation with the community. For me it’s like walking into a brick wall.”

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