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The BBC's Paul Danahar
"This latest killing is perhaps the most shocking yet"
 real 28k

Friday, 8 September, 2000, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Clampdown after Cape killing
Cape Town car bomb
Cape Town has seen a wave of bombings and killings
South Africa's Minister of Security, Steve Tshwete, has said the murder of a prominent magistrate is an attack on the state.

Police have increased security around courts and court officials, after the magistrate, Pieter Theron, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Cape Town.

This is a clear indication that terrorist thugs are on a warpath against the state

Security Minister Steve Tshwete
Mr Theron had presided over a number of cases involving a Muslim vigilante group, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad).

Mr Tshwete said that he had no doubt the attack was motivated by the fact that Mr Theron had been handling cases involving the group's members.

"This is a clear indication that terrorist thugs are on a warpath against the state. The police, magistrates, judges, state prosecutors and state witnesses are clearly in the firing line," Mr Tshwete said.

Bloody war

Police spokesman Captain Etienne Terreblanche said a man and a woman fired five shots at Mr Theron as he sat in his car in the suburb of Plumstead. He was hit in the head and body.

Theron, 50, who worked at the nearby Wynberg Magistrate's Court, died at the wheel, Captain Terreblanche said.

No Pagad members have been convicted
Drive-by shootings and bombings have become common in Cape Town in recent years.

Pagad draws much of its support from the town's Muslim community.

Police suspect the group of being responsible for many of the more than 100 bomb attacks in Cape Town, which is South Africa's most popular tourism city.

But so far, no one has been convicted for any of the blasts.

New level

The Western Cape Community Safety Minister Hennie Bester condemned the killing.

"This takes the urban terror campaign to a different level," he said.

"We need to look at security for our magistrates and judges."

Most of the drive-by attacks in Cape Town have been linked to a bloody war between the city's drug-dealing gangsters and the Muslim vigilante group.

Last year, a policeman was shot dead and another wounded in drive-by shootings. The detectives were both investigating cases against suspected vigilantes.

The magistrate's killing comes days after a man broke into South African President Thabo Mbeki's residence in Cape Town.

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See also:

28 May 99 | South Africa elections
South Africa's crime crisis
07 Sep 00 | Africa
Break-in at Mbeki's home
09 Aug 00 | Africa
Concern over SA anti-terror bill
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