An ANC official in Tshwane is in hot water after he was arrested for alleged extortion of money from a developer involved in a construction project in Silverton.
Lima Sethokga is the branch secretary of the ANC in Ward 86 in Nellmapius.
Sethokga was nabbed last week with his alleged accomplices Karabo Letswalo and Thabo Letswalo, after they forced the developer to stop the project under construction unless they were offered a share.
The trio are allegedly known as the “Boko Haram of Nellmapius” due to their notorious acts of demanding “bribes” from local businesspeople and developers in exchange for protecting them.
SAPS Gauteng spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed the arrest of the trio, saying they faced charges of extortion, harassment and intimidation.
“It is reported that the trio, aged 30, 35 and 49, stormed into a construction site in Silverton and threatened the site manager and employees, demanding that the project stop unless they are given a stake in the project,” he said.
During the commission of the crime, the police’s provincial task team in Tshwane was notified of the intimidation and immediately proceeded to the scene, Masondo said.
He said the team found the suspects in the act of stopping the project.
“The three suspects were arrested and charged with intimidation, harassment and extortion.”
The project site manager, Christopher Mphaphuli, who was among those intimidated, declined to speak to the Pretoria News, referring questions to his employer Proman – a project management company.
At the time of publication there had been no response to questions emailed to the company.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said the trio had already appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges of intimidation, extortion, trespassing and assault.
“The matter appeared for the first time on July 23 and it was rolled over to July 26 for address confirmation and profiling in custody.
“On July 26 bail was granted and paid,” Mahanjana said.
She said the matter was postponed to September 3.
Some residents, who spoke to the Pretoria News anonymously for fear of being attacked, said the trio branded themselves as the “Boko Haram of Nellmapius”.
According to residents, they had been terrorising businesspeople in the area by demanding money from them for protection.
For a long time the people in Mamelodi lived in fear of a gang called Boko Haram which extorted money from businesspeople.
In March the police vowed to crack down on criminal activities after they arrested some suspected gang members for terrorising the community and forcing businesspeople to pay protection fees.
Those arrested were charged with robbery, racketeering and contravening the Security Act.
Mahanjana said the NPA could neither confirm nor deny the allegations that the trio were linked to the “Boko Haram” gang “as none of that is mentioned in court”.
She also said that “seemingly” none of the accused worked at the construction project as some people claimed.
Masondo, on the other hand, said the investigation was still under way to establish if they belonged to any gang or group.
Gauteng acting provincial commissioner Major-General Tommy Mthombeni warned that those who interfered with legally operating developers would be dealt with decisively.
“We will not allow hooligans who will act against legal projects and pursue their unlawful conduct by harassing and intimidating other people.”
ANC Tshwane spokesperson Bafuze Yabo was not in a position to comment because, he said, he did not know about the arrests.
He promised to comment after he had gathered some information about the case, but at the time of going to publication he had not done so.