Links to SMMEs, gang feuds

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Several hit-style murders in the Bay have been linked to witness killings, insurance scams and gang feuds – some linked to local SMME deals.Due to the growing number of assassinations, a team of 10 detectives under the Provincial Organised Crime Investigation Unit was tasked to investigate the murders.The police investigation shows how some SMME businesses are linked to criminal gangs looking for a payday from government contracts.Officials have confirmed that at least six of the killings since January were linked to SMME murders, which sparked internal gang feuds when Baba Ningi was killed on January 28 in Zwide.“Ningi’s murder is what set off a series of killings that turned into a gang war between rival groups.“To date, at least six of the murders since January are linked to gangs and SMMEs.“Most of them are retaliation killings for attacks made on opposition gangs who were somehow connected to SMME deals,” an official said.“Some of the murders are, however, not linked to SMMEs.“At least three of the murders are state witness related which are also linked to gangs operating in the Bay.“A few of the cases are also linked to policy payouts for insurance ... almost all the other killings are linked to gang-related fights over businesses.”Detectives said these gangs were primarily part of large criminal gangs made up mostly of hijackers and robbers.Police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci did not want to get into the specifics of individual cases but confirmed that several of the murders were linked to Ningi’s murder.“Four cases are SMME-motivated murders.“Other cases include insurance policy claims and state witness murders while the majority are linked to gang-related cases [some indirectly caused by the SMME murders].“The gang-related cases are interlinked with one SMME killing which took place in Zwide in January,” she said.Only one firearm has been recovered and two suspected hitmen arrested since January.“At this stage there is no linkage between this firearm and the other hit murder cases currently under investigation.”Soci said all these murders appeared to be very organised – all with different motives.“These suspects knew their victims prior to the killing.“A team of detectives from the Provincial Organised Crime Investigation Unit has been established to solely handle these hit-type murder investigations in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro area,” she said.“The challenge is that witnesses are too afraid to come forward for fear of their lives.“We are appealing to the community to contact us anonymously and we will arrange to meet or get information in utmost confidentiality.“Without the community’s assistance, very little success in arrests is achieved.”

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