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Booysen hit could spark reprisal attacks

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There are fears that the assassination attempt on a well-known Cape Town gang leader could spark reprisal attacks across the city. Fifty year old Jerome ‘Donkie’ Booysen, the alleged leader of the Sexy Boys, was shot four times at Cape Town International airport on Wednesday, by an unknown gunman – the third hit on his life this year. During the shooting, a bystander was struck by a stray bullet. There is widespread speculation that the attack on Booysen was a retaliatory shooting for the killing of an alleged 28’s gang member Donovan Jacobs, who was shot in Cubana at Stellenbosch on Saturday night, along with another innocent bystander.

Things escalated on Thursday night when armed men allegedly entered the hospital where Booysen is currently in a critical condition. According to sources, there was an altercation between the men and security officials at the hospital. The man that started the fight was arrested. Security has been tightened at the hospital but it is still unclear whether Booysen was the target. Reports say he could be moved to another medical facility for his own safety. MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato said a security breach at the hospital is being investigated. 

“If you look at the shooting of Ralph Stanfield in Johannesburg in July, a week later we had some retaliatory shootings in Cape Town. The shooting of Jerome Booysen the last time also resulted in attacks. So I fear that the very same thing will happen again,” says crime activist Hanif Loonat. 

But Loonat pointed out that unprofessional hitman were being hired as they are unable to kill their targets.  These incidents have shown that underworld gang wars have spilled over from the streets and clearly have no boundaries. 

“These guys are so unprofessional as they are hurting innocent people in the crossfire. I think this is going to become a phenomenon. In the past, it used to be turf war and fight over certain areas. These days are gone…these guys are fighting for turf much broader than what we think,” he said. 

“It’s the airport today, tomorrow it’s a shopping mall, the next day a sporting event, it doesn’t matter where. This then becomes a national issue and every citizen should be of concern.” 

Gangsterism is no longer unique to the Western Cape and is slowly spreading to Gauteng.  The concern over gang violence has led Police minister Fikile Mbalula to request that the SANDF be deployed to gang ridden areas in Gauteng and the Western Cape. 

While shootings in the Cape Town underworld are nothing out of the ordinary, this year a new faction emerged in South Africa’s underworld with the aim of wrestling control of nightclub security from a more established grouping.  There are claims that the Booysen shooting is linked to this shift in the underworld. Loonat said the Cape Town underworld is on a mission to take over Johannesburg nightclubs, and this fight for power from certain factions means that violence could increase. 

“There was a time when gangsterism was a coloured issue, confined to the Cape Flats. Years ago we warned Nyanga and Khayelitsha police and we said this phenomenon would reach these areas. And there we saw the murders in Marikana township in Philippi East. As much as authorities want to deny this is gang violence, I firmly believe it is gang related. Gang violence is only going to become worse.”

Loonat believes the criminal justice system has been “captured” and the corruption starts with neighbourhood watches and community police forums.

“Why are these criminals not being brought to book? Unfortunately, with the criminal justice system being so corrupt, we cannot make the arrests.”

“Communities are responsible. Communities know who the corrupt police officials, they know the corrupt crime fighters and they know who the drug dealers are. But they don’t want to speak out. And we will be haunted forever in our silence.” 

MEC Dan Plato said the airport shooting showed the “total disregard for the law” and the lives of the public at a National Key Point. He has called for an in-depth investigation by the police, assisted by intelligence agencies.

“The investigation’s scope has to ensure that not only those responsible for the shooting face the full might of the law, but also that the reasons for the shooting and those implicated in these reasons are investigated and held accountable for any illegal or criminal actions,” he said. 

“As part of my oversight mandate over policing in the province and in the interest of public safety, I visited the Cape Town International Airport and met with key security personnel. I wish to assure the public that airport security and on-site police responded immediately to this unforeseen incident and have already met on how to further sharpen existing security measures to help prevent any future incident – both outside and inside the terminal.”

As we approach the festive season, Plato has urged all major private businesses, privately owned public spaces, shopping centres or complexes to ensure that their security systems are adequately geared to help ensure public safety.

“I urge the private sector to work with their local police, law enforcement and safety services in this regard. The Department of Community Safety remains a willing partner to help broker the necessary relationships between government agencies, safety stakeholders, security industry and private business to help see to it that the public’s safety remains the main concern throughout the upcoming festive season. I will also be engaging in safety oversight visits, where possible.” VOC 

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