News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

Horses used, abused by Atlantis gangs


Atlantis gangsters have developed a novel way of transporting stolen goods and drugs: using horses as transport.

Incensed residents say the horses are underfed, abused, and ridden for prolonged periods of time without being properly shod, resulting in their hoofs wearing down.

“According to complaints they (criminals) are using horses to transport drugs. I’m busy planning with the horse’s owners to mark their horses. We are involving police, the city’s law enforcement and economic development department,” DA ward councilor Cynthia Clayton.

Provincial police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said they are aware of allegations that gangsters are using horses to transport drugs on “occasion”.

Kinana said the police are regularly tasked with executing stop and search procedures, “especially at night in the identified problematic areas”.

“At times late at night people are found with horses and are then searched by police. Theft of horses is reported from time to time,” said Kinana.

Clayton said horses were ridden in the middle of the night and the noise of hooves along the street kept law-abiding residents awake at night.

“We (city) are taking this seriously,” she said.

Atlantis Kanonkop resident Leslie September said the horses are being used “as one form of intimidation”.

September who is 50-years-old, and is a husband, and father of two children and grandfather to one child, said horses were ridden through back yards, endangering children.

“People are living in fear. I’m a family man. I have children. Safety is key in any community and if that can’t be secured, what kind of environment will my children be raised in?” questioned September, adding that it was mostly youth who were being used “by the big ones” to transport drugs and stolen goods.

The horses were also abused, he said. They are underfed, deprived of water and rode for prolonged periods of time.

“Since December last year horses have been a menace,” he said. “We have already raised the issue with the local police. We are dealing with something very complicated,” he said.

Clayton agrees saying the horses are being used as vehicles to transport stolen goods and drugs and they were rode “until they die”.

Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokesperson Wanika Rusthoi said it was the first time that the use of horses as drug mules, and abuse of the animals, had been brought to their attention. However, Rusthoi said they attended to horses in need in the Atlantis area on a daily basis – and after hours in emergency cases.

“We have received confirmation that the Metro Police are busy investigating this and will no doubt keep us informed of any welfare concerns,” said Rusthoi.

Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Jean Pierre Smith, said the city has previously received complaints and was taking action within its mandate.

“This includes stop-and-search operations in the area,” said Smith.

If residents are aware of any such practices, they should report it to their local police station or call the city’s enforcement centre on 021 596 1999, he said. — Peter Luhanga


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