New task force formed to crack down on kidnappings, extortion in Cape Town

  • A task force has been set up to tackle kidnappings and extortion in Cape Town. 
  • The inter-governmental collaboration comes as police work around the clock to rescue Anichka Penev, who was abducted in full view of security cameras. 
  • There have been 32 kidnapping cases investigated in the Western Cape between 1 March and mid-September this year.

An inter-governmental task force has been formed to help stem the tide of kidnappings and extortion in Cape Town.

The collaborative effort between the City of Cape Town and police comes as detectives investigate the abduction of Anichka Penev, who was taken in broad daylight in the Blackheath area last week.

There was also the discovery of the body of eight-year-old Lukhololwam Mkontwana in iSiqalo, who went missing last week.

Brigadier Novela Potelwa said: “Over the years, the SAPS in the Western Cape has been collaborating with others in law enforcement on matters that relate to the safety of its inhabitants.

READ | Cele booed as union protests law enforcement budget cuts outside SAPS’ headquarters

“However, it is imperative that such matters of mutual interest are handled with the necessary care and consideration without losing sight of the very individuals whose safety is being ensured,” she added.

The mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said kidnapping incidents were a loud reminder to the City that concrete and effective action was needed.

“Our officers are ready to play an active and operational role in supporting the SAPS, interdicting these crimes and ensuring that convictions take place,” he added.

JP Smith seen giving speech outdoors, with SA flag in background

City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith.
Gallo Images Gallo Images

Previously, Smith’s team was allowed to attend provincial police meetings focused on extortion, but City officials were dismissed when the operational discussions commenced.

READ | NPA to be strengthened by ethics office and permanent investigative directorate – Lamola

“We must find mechanisms that place kidnappings and extortions front and centre and be brave enough to tackle them head-on,” said Western Cape Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen.

“I’ll continue having discussions with the provincial commissioner and all relevant stakeholders about improving community relations and rebuilding trust in policing.”

He added:

If we’re to address this and all other crimes, we have to work together. In this way, extortionists and other criminals will not have the upper hand.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime noted in its latest risk assessment report that kidnapping for ransom or extortion had been on the rise in South Africa since 2016.

“Victims include vulnerable members of townships and informal settlements, migrants, as well as prominent businesspeople and their families – with ransoms calibrated accordingly,” the report said.