A gang of criminals in South Africa has named itself Boko Haram and begun operating like the dreaded terrorist group operating in countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria.
Naija News understands the gang decided to adopt the name ‘Boko Haram‘ so as to instill fear in the heart of the residents of Mamelodi, east of Pretoria – the area in which it operates.
The gang members also collect money from shop owners in the area, describing the money as protection fee just the same way the real Boko Haram does for some farmers in territories they control.
A South African online newspaper, Sowetan Live reports that the gang has been terrorizing and extorting money from the people in the township since 2018.
A former gang member told the newspaper that they don’t take such money to the bank but is usually shared among the members.
“The money we collected, we didn’t take it to the bank, instead we would put it in a safe and share among ourselves,” the unnamed man told Sowetan Live.
He added that any shop owner that doesn’t want to pay the fee is threatened with a gun and forced to make payment.
“When a shop owner didn’t want to pay, we would take out our guns, point [them] at him and he would pay,” the man said, adding that most of the guns they use are unlicensed rifles bought on the streets.
It is understood that they charge as much as R300 to R400, approximately N7,400 to N9,800 from each business owner.
Another member of the gang explained further that they were initially registered as “Community First Forum,” a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) aimed at assisting struggling families, especially during funerals but some rogues hijacked the initiative and started extorting community members.
“Ever since we started collecting money, imposters stepped forward and pretended to be us… the money we collect is for the community,” the man explained.
He added that the group later split into two about two years ago.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram is synonymous with terrorist activities including killings, kidnappings, and destruction of public property.
The group, founded in 2002 by Muhammed Yusuf is totally against western education and wants to set up their own caliphate where they can practice Shariah law exclusively.
The government has been engaging the insurgents in battle with the hope of winning the battle someday soon.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has knocked popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi for alleging that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for the attacks against bandits.
In a statement on Monday, signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima, the army warned the cleric to stop propagating falsehood.
Yerima asked the prominent cleric not to drag the image of the Service to disrepute and show restraint on the way to malign the image of the Nigerian Army.