Claims of Pak­istani ‘Mafia’ in Dur­ban

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - LUNGANI ZUNGU | [email protected]

IN­FIGHT­ING among mem­bers of Dur­ban’s Pak­istani com­mu­nity has been pri­ori­tised and is the sub­ject of a pro­vin­cial po­lice task team in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In­de­pen­dent busi­ness own­ers who do not be­long to the Pak­istan South Africa As­so­ci­a­tion (PSSA) Dur­ban branch claimed some mem­bers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion acted like the “Mafia” and were de­mand­ing “do­na­tions” and hi­jack­ing busi­nesses.

The PSSA this week re­jected the claims, but the Sun­day Tri­bune spoke to two busi­ness own­ers, one of whom claimed he had lost two busi­nesses.

Riaz Muham­mad said he was forced to “do­nate” his first cel­lu­lar shop in Septem­ber and a sec­ond one last month. Both are in Bertha Mkhize (Vic­to­ria) Street.

Muham­mad sub­se­quently opened an ex­tor­tion case against two Dur­ban lead­ers of the PSSA and two Pak­istani men he ac­cused of forc­ing him to sign busi­ness trans­fer doc­u­ments which stated that he was do­nat­ing his shops.

The four men are known to the Sun­day Tri­bune.

In the first in­ci­dent, Muham­mad al­leged that a leader of the PSSA forced him to sign the doc­u­ments.

“They put a gun to my head. They were go­ing to kill me if I didn’t sign those doc­u­ments. They took my shop with stock that was worth more than R2 mil­lion,” said Muham­mad.

He said noth­ing had hap­pened since he opened the case in Novem­ber.

Although he no longer op­er­ated the busi­ness, Muhammed said he con­tin­ued to pay the rent of R10 360 and R18 300 for his two shops.

The Sun­day Tri­bune saw his bank state­ment. A po­lice source confirmed that a case of ex­tor­tion was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

“We are forced to pay ‘do­na­tions’ which are not part of Zakah. I know Zakah and pay it for poor peo­ple. These peo­ple rule over the Pak­ista­nis in Dur­ban by in­still­ing fear,” said Muham­mad.

Ac­cord­ing to a pre­vi­ous re­port, the gang also had mem­bers in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Muham­mad As­lam, who owned a restau­rant along Dur­ban’s North Beach, sought a pro­tec­tion or­der against one of the PSSA lead­ers af­ter they al­legedly de­manded a “do­na­tion” of R1m.

Ini­tially, As­lam claimed that the lead­ers took his car and de­manded that he pay R100 000 for it to be re­leased.

“I gave them the money. But when they de­manded a mil­lion rand I told them I can’t af­ford that,” said As­lam.

As­lam said he did not go to his restau­rant any more.

Hayat Khan, pres­i­dent of the PSSA, de­nied the claims lev­elled by Muham­mad and As­lam. “These two peo­ple have opened false cases for their per­sonal gains,” said Khan. He said the al­le­ga­tions against the as­so­ci­a­tion and its mem­bers were “to­tally false”.

Po­lice confirmed the case at Dur­ban cen­tral po­lice sta­tion.

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