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POCA act needs be enforced: Loonat

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The cluster chairperson for the Mitchell’s Plain Community Policing Forum (CPF), Hanif Loonat , has called for the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) to be used more effectively, in a bid to fight the increase in drug activity consuming the communities of the Western Cape. This comes after a clamp down on well-known gang leader Fadwaan “Fats” Murphy’s assets last Friday by the police attached to the Mitchell’s Plain cluster, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Assets to the value of R1.7 million were seized at Murphy’s properties in Lentegeur, Mitchel’s Plain, Athlone Industria, Reindeer Street in Grassy Park and Worcester. Murphy, his ex-wife and three others face 239 charges, including drug dealing, money laundering racketeering and counts under the prevention of organised crime.

Reports indicate that charges against the alleged drug packers were dropped when they provided police with a statement. A total of R1.1 million, plastic wrap, as well as 7985 packets of tik and tik lollies, sealing equipment and 10400 units of heroin were confiscated.

“We need to apply the POCA act, 121 of 1998, effectively. I have been propagating for some time now that if we use this act effectively, we are going to combat this type of criminality which affects the lives of our youth and of our communities at large. This POCA act is something that we can utilise in bringing down the scourge and the sales of drugs and the demolishing demoralisation of our youth on a daily basis,” Loonat told VOC Breakfast Beat.

The Act introduces laws that work against organised crime and gang activities, with a special focus on money-laundering and racketeering or illegal business activities. Crimes related to gangs, money-laundering or racketeering can be prosecuted in terms of this Act, even if the crime was committed before the Act came about, or if it was committed by a South African in another country.

Loonat is convinced that large-scale corruption is at the core of the problems society faces at the moment.

“It is through corruption that these unscrupulous criminals exist and they only grow bigger and become monsters. When a monster is established it is extremely difficult to bring him down. We need to deal with these guys the minute they start becoming role players in the sale of drugs and gangsterism and criminal actions at large,” he said.

“The POCA act is not only for those that sell drugs, but also for those that accumulate wealth through other criminal activities like fraud. So we need to start using this effectively and I think we are quite successful in the case of Fadwan “Fats” Murphy. We have 239 charges against him and we are confident that we are going to successfully execute this act in his case.”

Loonat said that authorities believe they are slowly dismantling Murphy’s alleged multi-million rand drug operation. Reports have indicated that he accumulated an excess of R53.5 million. He has, however, warned that drug operations do not stop once a kingpin is arrested or has assets seized.

“I want to be very cautious in saying that we have stabilised or stopped this type of unscrupulous actions in our communities. I can tell you this is one of many that are active. You get rid of the one and the other one gets stronger. That’s exactly what happens here,” he said.

“These guys won’t stop. I always say the drug trade in this province runs into billions of rands and these guys are not going to walk away and say, ‘look we have lost. We are not going to continue.’ What we’ve got is a substantial amount of his assets, but I believe that he is still trading and you are not going to stop him from trading because he needs to assure that he protects and maintains his power wherever he has found himself a turf.”

Loonat said for any drug kingpin, the loss of valuable assets is a major blow to his wealth and business.

“Now if you ask yourself how he accumulated R55 million doing absolutely nothing… sitting around, terrorising our people, working on our youth. It’s obviously through criminal activity,” he added.

Murphy and his accomplices are currently out on bail. His ex-wife, Shafieka, allegedly sold drugs in the town of Worcester, where she lives with her new husband.

Loonat said that the market for drugs in smaller towns was on the increase.

“We have two types of crime that are contributing to the social ills in our communities in Western Cape… one that happens in the urban areas and one that happens in rural towns. Both stem from the abuse of alcohol and drugs. If you look at the rural areas, drugs are starting to infiltrate those areas. Drugs are more freely available in urban area where money is available freely.  In small areas, dealers realise that there is a market now.”

With the widespread increase of dealers in small towns, Loonat explained said drug empires would start to emerge there.

“They spread their wings, their soldiers move out. For example, today I start out and deploy 5 guys in Grassy Park to sell in that area and then that turf belongs to me. What an individual who has been deployed then does is spread his wings and becomes a drug lord in an area on the outskirts.”

The anti-crime activist praised the South African Police Services (SAPS) for the hard work on the case. Loonat said that he was confident that many more major operations like this one would arise in the future, but also believes that South Africa has not been successful in dealing with crimes of this nature.

“This must be the first of many to come. I don’t think we have had many in this case, in fact, internationally, South Africa through its common law and statutory laws, has failed to effectively deal with organised crime. If you look at world standards we are really lagging behind. The reasons we are so behind is because corruption starts very high up, at government level and goes on to policing and then corrupts and lands up in communities. Where we have corrupt community members. With all this taken into consideration it is really difficult to bring somebody to book.”

“It takes a lot of hard work and I believe that it’s going to help us if we are successful in Fadwan Murphy’s case. We are going to set a precedent where we are going to tell the others… ‘Be careful, we are now coming for the rest of you’.” VOC

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