Cape Flats 'reign of terror' culminates in trial for the Terrible Josters
A web of "premeditated" killings entwined with the trade in illegal drugs is expected to be revealed when one of the biggest gang trials gets under way in the Western Cape.
A dozen suspected members of the notorious Terrible Josters gang - who allegedly terrorised residents of the Cape Flats for years - appeared in the high court in Cape Town under heavy police guard on Monday.
Cape Flats residents filled the public gallery.
According to the state, the gang has as many as 10,000 members and the "criminal activities of the Terrible Josters are mostly focused on the sale of illegal drugs, namely 'tik' and mandrax in certain areas of the Western Cape".
The 12 men on trial face 71 counts, including 11 of "planned or premeditated murder" and drug dealing. Judge Rosheni Allie postponed the matter to August 12 for trial.
In March, acting judge Johan de Waal turned down the bail application of one of the accused, Horatio Solomons. In the application, Solomons, 29, told the court that he had seven children with six women and that he supported them financially. He said he ran a taxi business, purchased cars on auction and sold them and owned three properties in Delft, Belhar and Kleinmond. De Waal questioned whether the businesses were tax compliant.
His mother also deposed an affidavit and attached 293 names of Delft residents indicating that they had no objection to his release on bail. But the state submitted a petition signed by 260 Roosendaal residents objecting to his release.
Solomons complained that he was being held with 45 other people in a cell meant for 30 inmates in Pollsmoor prison. He claimed that the prison was infested with rats, fleas and other insects.
But De Waal said: "Such conditions cannot in my view constitute exceptional circumstances justifying the release of Solomons."
In the 31-page judgment, De Waal said gang shootings had decreased in the Cape Flats since members of the Terrible Josters were incarcerated in August 2017.
"It is further alleged, on behalf of the state, that [Solomons], as a member of a criminal gang, is likely to continue hostilities with opposing gangs if released on bail," said De Waal.
"Gang related shooting is an immense problem for communities in the Cape Flats. It appears, further, that since the incarceration of the Terrible Josters criminal gang members, there had been a de-escalation of gang violence in these areas.
"One can also take into account, as suggested by the state, that when members of the Terrible Josters appeared in the Bellville Court in August 2017, they allegedly assaulted a member of an opposing gang, which then led to that gang opening fire on the group, leaving bullet holes in the Bellville Court glass entrance. Some eight cartridges were later collected at the entrance of the court. In the circumstances, the application for bail is dismissed."
Solomon's co-accused are facing a further 202 counts of "criminal gang activity" in a separate case also pending in the high court.