South Africa

Khayelitsha Development Forum lifts lid on alleged extortion racket in area

CAPE TOWN - Hair salons, fruit and veg hawkers, child care centres and food vendors are among small businesses being extorted by gangsters in Khayelitsha.

This is according to the Khayelitsha Development Forum, which hosted a prayer service in the area over the weekend where residents stressed that they've had enough and are calling for an end to the harassment.

The forum's Ndithini Tyhido said that even ordinary people walking to and from work every day had been approached and intimidated to pay protection money.

In some cases, residents have even had to show the criminals their payslips so they can decide on an amount of money to be extorted.

"There are too many of these cases. They started with extorting the Somali shop owners, now I'm seeing an expansion of their income stream, now they're going to private and individual households and much smaller businesses."

Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa joined residents at the Khayelitsha Stadium over the weekend and urged residents to work with law enforcement agencies to take back their streets.

Tyhido said that while residents are at their wit's end, some were fearful.

"As the community, we are trying to mobilise ourselves and trying to deal with the matter. The problem we are facing now is that people are fearing to come out and report this as they're worried about reprisals."

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