South Africa: Alleged Extortionists Appear in Mamelodi Court

They were arrested in January after GroundUp reported that gang members had hijacked government-owned flats

On Tuesday, the Mamelodi Magistrates Court was shown evidence that one of the people accused of extorting residents at government-owned flats, is still threatening residents from prison.

Patrick “Rashid” Bopape was ordered to remain in custody after the prosecutor showed the court cellphone records from residents that apparently showed that he has been harassing them ever since his arrest.

Bopape and his co-accused Tebogo Msibi face at least 27 charges of extortion and intimidation. They were arrested in early January after GroundUp reported that gang members had hijacked the government-owned Nellmapius Heatherly flats in Mamelodi East, Tshwane. They were allegedly forcing residents to pay them R500 monthly and had sold apartments illegally for up to R20,000.

After the publication of our story on 11 January, eight people were arrested but only Bopape and Msibi were charged.

According to the charge sheet, seen by GroundUp, investigations into the other six are being finalised and “more charges may still be added”.

Msibi was granted bail of R5,000 bail on condition that she refrains from intimidating the complainants. She must report to the police station three times a week, and must not go close to the flats.

On Tuesday, Bopape’s lawyer asked that the matter be postponed so they could have time to examine the cellphone records presented by the state.

The accused looked relaxed in the dock. The public gallery was full of tenants from the flats and others were waiting outside.

The matter will return to court on 9 February.

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