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13 December 2011 at 11:09 - Posted by Anonymous

Reign of terror changed face of Camps Bay


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Five years ago Camps Bay was a tranquil, upmarket suburb where residents could enjoy the outdoors and sea views.

Then a gang of robbers repeatedly targeted the community, causing fear and changing the face of the neighbourhood. But a group of residents rallied together, tackled the surge in crime head-on and, with police, ultimately managed to foil the syndicate, which committed at least 39 crimes in the community in three years.

Last week, after an 11-month trial in the Western Cape High Court, the members of what residents dubbed the “Momadi gang”, after gang leader Luis Momadi, were convicted.

Momadi, Arnaldo Faife and Rogerio Laice, of Mozambique, along with Sabastine Okele, of Nigeria, and Thamsanqa Mafuya, from the Eastern Cape, were found guilty of a variety of charges.

Sentencing procedures began this week.

The Momadi gang chose homes near green belts and slipways – giving them easy escape routes. And they tended to break into homes when residents were there.

The key role members of the Camps Bay community played in foiling the gang and the major impact the gang had on residents became apparent through court testimony, a 113-page judgment and interviews with community members and the gang’s victims.

According to the judgment, the string of robberies started in 2006.

Residents, who up until then had no formal dealings with the police, were suddenly often the first at the scenes of violent crimes and had to go for advanced crime scene management courses, set up by local detectives because of the constant robberies.

Some residents were also trained in observation so they could formally participate in stake-outs.

Testifying in aggravation of sentence this week, Camps Bay resident Bernard Schäfer said the community wanted the members of the Momadi gang to receive the maximum sentence. He said if they were later released on parole, residents wanted those from other countries deported.

Through court testimony and interviews with Camps Bay residents, it emerged that:

l Residents became so fearful of the Momadi gang that they started changing their lifestyles. Some residents spent thousands of rand on extra security gates and were too scared to go jogging or walking outside.

l Residents of other suburbs became too scared to visit Camps Bay, and meetings, including those of book clubs, were moved to other suburbs.

l A number of guest houses were targeted and tourists became victims. This deterred some tourists from visiting Camps Bay. Residents feared property values would decline.

l A GPS message was shown when motorists entered Camps Bay, saying it was a high crime zone.

l Camps Bay Watch, a neighbourhood watch, was set up as a direct result of the Momadi gang robberies. Within a short period at least 600 residents had signed up.

 

l The Camps Bay police station had been understaffed since the 1960s. Residents pressured the police to beef up the service. This was done and specialised units at a provincial level were tasked with helping to track the gang.

l Residents opened their homes to members of the specialised police units, creating safe houses, and chefs from local guest houses supplied these officers with meals.

l On November 2, 2008, three gang members broke into Wolfgang Westendorf’s home. After Westendorf was beaten and he and a friend were gagged and bound, Momadi raped Westendorf’s friend. The woman left the country and did not want to return.

l When three of the gang members tried to break into Frederick Woolley’s home in December three years ago, Woolley fired shots at them.

The trio escaped, but because of a blood trail they left it was apparent that Woolley had wounded them.

Woolley feared he had killed someone and after the incident would call a friend in the early hours of the morning saying he was having a panic attack and was struggling to breathe.

Woolley died of a heart attack on January 13, 2009.

His friend Sandra van Staden, who was present when the incident occurred, blamed the attempted break-in for his death.

The incident led to Momadi’s arrest.

According to members of Camps Bay Watch, after being wounded when trying to break into Woolley’s home, the robbers fled into the Little Glen green belt.

Camps Bay Watch members, residents and police formed a human cordon around the bushy area throughout the night, and a police helicopter was used to monitor the area from above.

Soon after sunrise, Momadi was spotted trying to run away and was arrested.

After Momadi’s arrest, his four accomplices were apprehended between December 2008 and January 2009. - The Cape Times

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