Black-led mlungu gang hits Soweto shebeens

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

A gang of armed whites, led by a black man, is terrorising Soweto.

The gang's main target is said to be taverners and motorists.

One of the victims, shebeen queen Matlala Mabalane, says she suspects the gang might have connections in the police force. She said that they impersonate police officers.

"The gang leader boasts that he will never go to jail because he has connections," said Mabalane.

The gang leader was apparently arrested late last year but was mysteriously released.

Police spokesman Lindiwe Mbatha said a senior police official has promised her the docket would be available today.

Shebeen queen Mabalane said: "The black guy came here as a patron for three weeks. He would plead with me to drink inside the house saying because he was a police officer he didn't want to drink with members of the public. I refused," she said.

Weeks later he returned with three white men, saying they were looking for a suspect, she said.

They came again at night, searched her house and took R6000 which was in an envelope.

"They said they were taking it as evidence. I protested telling them that was my money," she said.

She followed them outside and took down the vehicle registration numbers which she gave to the police. It turned out the car was not a police car.

However, the owner was found and he denied knowing the men.

Sowetan understands that there have been more cases connected to the gang. Many more cases of shebeen owners being targeted have been reported.

The South African Liquor Traders' Association spokesman Saint Madlala said he was not aware of taverners being victimised.