Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Mystery still shrouds massacre

CAPE TOWN -- Mystery shrouds the motive for the massage-parlour massacre which claimed eight lives in Sea Point, Cape Town, early on Monday morning.

Ten men were shot in the head at close range in the Graham Road, Sea Point, massage parlour about 04:00 on Monday.

The victims were found with their hands tied behind their backs, most with their throat cut.

Dawn Betteridge, the director of a gay and lesbian organisation, the Triangle Project, said the killings could have been drug-related.

She said the project received this information from a telephone help-line for people traumatised by the shootings.

Newspaper reports have said four members of a Johannesburg gang had been linked to the murders.

Western Cape police said news reports that the executions were carried out by a Johannesburg gang were pure speculation.

Captain Etienne Terblanche said it also was untrue that the killings were drug-related.

He said police had launched a manhunt for four white men who were seen driving from the murder house at 7 Graham Road in a white three-series BMW.

Groote Schuur Hospital spokesperson Philippa Johnson said on Tuesday that one of the two surviving victims from the massage parlour was still in a critical condition in an intensive-care unit.

The other was in a stable condition in a general ward.

One of them was a man in his 50s. Johnson could not release their names.

The massacre has been met with outrage from politicians, sex workers and gay-rights activists.

Safety and security MEC Leonard Ramatlakane, who visited the house, appealed to the public to come forward with information about the gruesome attack.

Terblanche said then the investigation was at an early stage and he did not wish to speculate about possible motives.

This was in reply to a question from the media about whether the killing was connected with drug dealers or a protection and racketeering scheme.

Earlier, some neighbours had said they were fed up with the number of drug dealers in the area. They all declined to be identified.

Terblanche said a task team — comprising members of the serious violent crimes, organised crime and crime intelligence units — had been formed to handle the investigation.

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Created: January 24, 2003
Last modified: January 24, 2003
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