Four men have been denied bail in a case involving the alleged extortion of protection money from Somali shopkeepers based in Delft, Cape Town.
The four appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Friday after their arrest for the alleged extortion of protection money amounting to R2 000 per business.
In denying them bail, Magistrate Zakira Mohamed recalled the circumstances of their arrest.
She said a Somali businessman was allegedly been threatened at gunpoint while at a sports field and was told to bring other Somali shopkeepers so that they could also pay the protection money. The police were tipped off and arrived at the scene.
The three beefy men and one very tall man were pointed out as having made the demands, and were arrested.
They face charges of extortion and intimidation.
“These charges are very serious,” said Mohamed. “Offences of this nature have been on the rise these past months.”
She said the men allegedly visited shops three times and demanded “protection” money.
Two also have other pending cases against them, and if they are found guilty, they face lengthy sentences because the case involves the threat of violence involving a firearm.
She added that she had to take the accused’s personal circumstances into account, as well as the concerns of the Somali business people who submitted a petition to court.
Outside the court, a group of about 40 Somali shopkeepers held a low-key protest calling for bail to be refused.
Mohamed noted that the State also felt the accused could be a danger to witnesses if they were released.
“In the circumstances, bail is denied,” she said.
The case was postponed to January 30.