Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

'I Don't Want to Die'

Motive?

Map: Africa with Cape Town locator
Map: Africa with Cape Town locator
 

Cape Town, the Mother City of South Africa, stood shaken in the aftermath of what had occurred. Gay and lesbian rights groups reacted immediately, many voicing the belief that the massacre had been a hate crime. Sea Point was even likened to Hillbrow, a suburb in Johannesburg known for its criminal element and dangerous underground character, and demands were made for some kind of clean-up operation.

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa
 

The police faced two obstacles: They had difficulty identifying the victims, because sex workers tend to use assumed names, and there was no clear indication of the motive behind the attack.

Not that there was a lack of theories.

Because the target was a gay massage parlor, many fingers pointed toward a homophobic killer. One supporter of this theory was Juan Uys, the chairperson of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GLA), who himself had been subjected to some harassment and threats.

A second possibility was a drug connection. Although owner Aubrey Otgaar was, by all accounts, strongly against the use or presence of drugs on his premises, former Sizzlers masseurs and clients admitted that drugs were used inside the parlor. One masseur said many of the young men frequently smoked marijuana to calm themselves and also bought drugs for clients from a dealer in Graham Road.

Otgaar had reputedly told a masseur to leave the establishment because of drugs not long before the massacre and, in the days following this event, two Nigerians visited the parlor in search of this masseur who they claimed was in their debt. Otgaar ran them off and told them never to return.

A third scenario, which could have included the drug theory, was that the killings took place because of non-compliance with some kind of protection racket. The owner of another escort agency said in the Cape Argus of January 21, 2003, that she would not be surprised if the protection bossesthe Nigerians and Moroccans were involved. Protection fees could easily go up to R24,000 (approx. $US 4065) per month.

Yet another motive could have been robbery, because the safes apparently had been opened and emptied.

Safe
Safe

The gruesome manner in which the men had been killed, however, hinted at either gang involvement or some deeper emotional/psychological undercurrent.

Numerous motives were considered by the initial investigating team, consisting of members of the Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, the Organized Crime Unit and the Crime Intelligence Unit.

The mystery deepened when the various witness accounts were correlated. The getaway vehicle was an older-model white BMW. A witness apparently saw one of the victims arguing with two people inside this car prior to the massacre, ostensibly about drug money. There were four suspects: a man with reddish hair, a goatee, and two tattoos (a coiling cobra on his left upper arm and the words Fast Guns on his right wrist); a slender man who sniffed frequently; a tall, well-built man, whose head was shaven cleanly; and another well-built man.

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