Death threats fail to rattle elite ‘ghosts’
THE CITY of Cape Town’s elite “ghost squad” is facing a barrage of hostility – and even death threats.
But the team has brushed the threats aside, attributing the antagonism to the unit’s “tremendous success”.
Instead, the unit plans to double its team of traffic officers and its vehicle fleet by as early as next month.
The vehicles will all be unmarked – the squad’s trademark.
The unit already has five cars – four Golf GTIs, and a Opel Astra – and six 1300cc Honda motorcycles.
However, unit head Lance Crowster said they would expand the fleet to include vehicles of different makes, models, shapes and colours that would make it harder for people to identify them.
He said a further 13 traffic officers would join the unit next month.
“After that, we’ll probably look at increasing the squad’s numbers again.”
Crowster praised his team for their “zero tolerance” approach to law enforcement, as well as their fearlessness, especially in the face of numerous death threats on the internet since the unit’s inception in July.
All threats have so far appeared on the social networking site Facebook. There are at least two groups on the site, each with hundreds of members, slamming the ghost squad.
“We’ve received death threats,” said a squad member, “but that has only made us more deter mined to do our jobs.”
All officers are armed and have had specialised training.
Squad members declined to be named, out of consideration for their safety and that of their families, in light of the death threats.
Another warned that the team was planning to take legal action against anyone who made threats against them.
On Facebook there are two groups: “Street Racers vs Ghost Squad” and “Let’s do something about the ghost squad in Cape Town”. They have 1 143 and 430 members respectively.
Some members of the smaller group made the boldest comments, saying the unit was “playing with fire” by trying to stop drag-racing and suggesting people “put out a hit on them” and “shoot the f**kers”.
One member of “Street Racers vs Ghost Squad” asked for photographs of the officers to be posted on the site – another user obliged, and now there are several on the site.
Some members suggested the money used to establish the ghost squad could be used to “get murderers and rapists off the street” and provide homes for the poor.
One user suggested that since the squad’s cars were unmarked, it would make it difficult for road users to identify actual officers from fakes.
But Crowster assured people that ghost squad members wore uniforms on duty.
ROAD WARRIORS: Ghost squad traffic cops, who use unmarked vehicles, question a taxi driver on the N2 near the Vanguard Drive turn-off due to suspected overloading.