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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 21:34 GMT
Assassins blamed for Cape killings
View of Cape Town and Table Mountain
Sea Point is known for its gangsterism, drug dealing and prostitution
Those who carried out the brutal murder of eight members of staff in a gay massage parlour in Cape Town on Monday may belong to a Johannesburg gang brought in as hired guns.

Police are understood to be investigating whether run-ins with drug dealers or gangs may have led to the attack, in which two other men were injured, the Cape Times reports.

Police have appealed for help to catch the perpetrators and said they want to question four white men seen in a BMW.

Ten men were shot in the head at close range on Monday morning. One of the two survivors is in a critical condition. Some of the victims had their throats slit.

Drugs connection

The gang in question, the Fast Guns, is a powerful Johannesburg gang created 15 years ago, with strong links with another Cape Town gang.

The Cape Times says that the Fast Guns have reportedly been recruited in the past to carry out "hits" in Cape Town, 1,600 km away, to throw local investigators off track.

Police sources told the newspaper that investigations were centred on drugs, protection racket or possible business dealings gone wrong.

Earlier, neighbours had said there had been an altercation at the house involving drug dealers.

Police inspect the body of a man who went on a shooting spree before killing himself
Guns are often a feature in violent crime

The police say they have now identified five of the victims at the Sizzlers massage parlour, in the city's Sea Point district, but have not yet released their names.

The suspects reportedly descended on the massage parlour, searching for two men named Stephen and Maruan who worked there.

The Star newspaper quoted detectives as saying the two male prostitutes had angered gang bosses in Johannesburg and fled back to Cape Town.

"The gunmen were apparently unable to extract the whereabouts of Stephen and Maruan from their victims. They then shot everyone in the head, slit their throats with a carpet knife and left them for dead," the Star said.

The owner of the massage parlour, Eric Ottgar, and his employees - all young men aged between 19 and 24 - were shot with what police suspect were .22-calibre handguns - the weapon of choice for professional hitmen, according to the Cape Times.

Mr Ottgar, 47, is fighting for his life in hospital, according to the South African news agency, Sapa.

Revenge killings

The other survivor, who is in a stable condition, is believed to be a 20-year-old who managed to make his way to a petrol station before being taken to hospital.

The police are reportedly struggling to identify the victims as most used pseudonyms. It is also believed some of the dead were not originally from Cape Town.

Captain Etienne Terblanche, a police spokesman, said the investigation was still at an early stage and they were following up all clues.

He said police were looking for four white males seen driving an old, white BMW. He gave descriptions of their appearance.

It is thought one of the two survivors of the massacre may have supplied police investigators with descriptions.

One is described as having reddish bleached hair, a goatee and a Fast Guns tattoo on his right wrist and a tattoo of a rearing snake on his upper left arm.

The second is a thin male with a fair complexion who sniffs a lot - a habit regarded as a strong indicator of heavy cocaine use.

The third is tall, well built (possibly a body builder) and shaven-headed and the fourth is also described as well built.

Dawn Betridge, the director of Triangle Project, the oldest Gay and Lesbian organisation in South Africa, told BBC's Network Africa that Cape Town was shocked.

"This is a particularly violent crime and there is no real explanation for why this has taken place. There is a lot of speculation at the moment."


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20 Jan 03 | Africa
31 Jan 99 | Africa
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