Long Street businesses caught in an ‘extortion racket’ according to bar owner

Following the murder of Beerhouse bouncer Joe Louis Kanyona last weekend, concerns around safety on Long Street have been revived - with shocking claims emerging from business owners there.

Alleged security extortion racket

John Davidson, the owner of Bob’s Bar on Long Street, has spoken out claiming that the nightclubs along the stretch of road are forced to pay a security fee to a local company, all against their will.

Davidson says that if he or any other business on Long Street refuses to pay the fee, their bars and staffers come under threat.

There is a huge problem and it has been there for a number of years. We’ve been on Long Street for five years and have had major issues with security. Right now it’s Moroccans, it has been for a while. I’ve been able to deal with them by paying a monthly security fee. It keeps my staff and my customers safe.

John Davidson, the owner of Bob’s Bar

Popular bar, Beer House, on Long Street - where a doorman was stabbed to death on 20 June 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

Beerhouse murder could be linked

33-year-old Congolese bouncer, Joe Louis Kazadi Kanyona, was stabbed to death by a group of men in front of Beerhouse on Saturday night. While the exact motive remains unclear, Davidson suspects that the man’s killing could connected to a security extortion racket.

They give you an invoice and we pay every month, and of course I object to it... But they make you pay. I didn't pay four years ago and I had my windows put through... The murder of the bouncer is too much of a coincidence for it not to be related.

John Davidson, the owner of Bob’s Bar

Davidson says that the authorities are not doing enough to fight this matter and believes that permanent uniformed police deployment is the only way to secure the neighbourhood.

An invoice from ‘Lifestyle and Entertainment Security Service’, that Bob’s Bar owner John Davidson claims he receives on a monthly basis.

Stakeholders say claims must be brought forward to SAPS

Mo Hendricks, security manager of the Central City Improvement District (CCID) responded to the allegations put forward by the bar owner.

Hendricks says that he is surprised that Davidson claims CCID is not doing anything about safety on Long Street. When asked whether he was aware of the extortion racket, Hendricks argued that it was not in the jurisdiction of the CCID. He says that he has alerted the relevant agencies.

He hadn’t reported anything further to us, so nobody knew what was going down. We are aware of certain concerns, but we are not in a position to discuss issues like that and have no authorisation to investigate.

Mo Hendricks, security manager of the CCID

JP Smith, The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, says that he asked for an increased presence following the murder on Saturday and that the South African Police Services (SAPS) is the exclusive role player in the investigation.

That’s absolute nonsense. Metro police patrol and work in the area continuously. The media have a distorted interest in Long Street. But that doesn't mean we must take police away from other hot-spots when there is an incident there.

JP Smith, MayCo Member for Safety and Security

Western Cape acting provincial police commissioner, Jeremy Vearey says that he resents Davidson’s remarks about police efforts (or lack thereof).

Vearey advised that business owners had not laid reports of the extortion and that the alleged racketeering activities need to be investigated further. He says that the bar owners must come forward with evidence and a statement to provide legal weight to the claims.

#SaveLongStreet

Capetonians have taken to social media to start a conversation about the need to ‘Save Long Street’.

Also read the related article on the EWN website.

Listen to the full conversation on CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:

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