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Ring of fear – Allegations of foreigner influence

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Death and rape threats, warnings of an apparent hit planned for Saturday and the presentation of solid evidence on the perceived existence of an international extortion ring operating from Nirvana have rocked the otherwise peaceful suburb the past almost week and a half.
A week ago it was brought to Polokwane Observer’s attention that a prominent family in the city is living in fear of the suspected master minds of a sizeable grouping of foreign nationals now facing new threats following an incident in the neighbourhood last Saturday afternoon. The same family is still coming to terms with the execution of their relative in Polokwane last September whereafter no arrest had been made as yet. More than a year later it was regarded a cold case, one of the relatives stressed.
Due to the sensitivity of ensuing developments and upon final consideration of available information at the time of going to print, Polokwane Observer opted for the decision not to publish the names of the complainant in two separate cases as a result of the latest incident, his immediate or extended family members or the suspects at this stage.
Last Saturday’s incident resulted in two cases of intimidation and extortion being instituted with the Police in Polokwane and Westenburg. Threats against the lives of the extended family and of rape of the one daughter were allegedly hurled at the son of the family, who is also the complainant in both cases, during the Saturday incident apparently involving the complainant and a relative being confronted by close to 20 persons reportedly affiliated to the Pakistani Limpopo Association South Africa in Nirvana.
According to information two men were expected to appear in the intimidation case in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court yesterday (Wednesday) while the case of extortion against their sons was provisionally withdrawn pending Police investigation in court in Polokwane on Monday.
Due to growing concern amid alleged threats the matter was escalated to Community Safety MEC Dickson Masemola last Thursday. He was seen to have passed on the information to the Police.
However, over the course of days and amid growing fear regarding their safety in the light of additional information about a suspected hit either in the form of a killing or a kidnapping of an extended family member reportedly being planned for this Saturday,, despondent victims kept stressing the severity of the threats against them. Visuals of a so-called suspected plotting meeting depicting close to 30 men who are reportedly part of a formation seen to have been formally established in Nirvana last week, were shared with Polokwane Observer. It was pointed out that they were of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin.
Expressing grave disappointment over the charge of extortion having been provisionally withdrawn on Monday, a source within the family circle stressed perceived lack of urgency on the side of the Police in handling the matter since the first of the charge of extortion had first been registered with the Police in Polokwane last Tuesday. The case of intimidation was registered in Westenburg thereafter. The first arrest, the source pointed out, had been effected on Friday.
The source emphasised that the case of extortion that was provisionally withdrawn is reportedly based on phone recordings made in the presence of Police officials at Polokwane Police station last Tuesday. Copies of the voice recordings were forwarded to Polokwane Observer, as were the numbers for the cases registered against the two sets of fathers and sons apparently implicated in the respective cases.
Polokwane Observer was informed that the one accused in the extortion case handed himself over on Sunday, shortly before the case was provisionally withdrawn pending further investigations. As far as could be established two more suspects were expected to be charged for intimidation.
A member of the extended family who also claimed to have entertained numerous death threats by and counter-offers for hits on members of the same grouping over the past year, reiterated concern over the seriousness of the allegations, authorities not acting promptly at first and the fact that a case based on solid evidence passed on to an investigating officer could be provisionally dropped in a court of law while victims lived in fear of their lives and of getting raped as threatened during last Saturday’s altercation in Nirvana.
He continued pointing out that concern had been raised with the Police about two of the suspects, one of the two older accused in the intimidation case and his son who was suspected of alleged extortion and was seen to be in conflict with the law in another previously widely publicised case, being considered a flight risk. He continued saying the father was a non-South African citizen as stipulated by the identification document in his name. A copy thereof was forwarded to Polokwane Observer.
Five days into the issue initially having been escalated to Masemola for the first time last Thursday, the seriousness of the allegations and further information about a possible planned hit moved Provincial Police Communications Head Motlafela Mojapelo to immediate action. On deadline he informed Polokwane Observer that he had brought the cases to the attention of Provincial Police Commissioner Nneke Ledwaba and his deputy responsible for crime detection upon receiving the enquiry for comment on Tuesday.
Mojapelo confirmed the cases, provided details pertaining to the charges and in terms of the intimidation case said the two suspects were expected to appear in court again yesterday (Wednesday).
Further comment from the Police in Limpopo was expected when going to press but was not received in time.
This is an unfolding story.

Story: YOLANDE NEL
>>observer.yolande@gmail.com