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Casper of the notorious Star Force gang finds God

by Lethokuhle Moyo
13 Jun 2015 at 12:46hrs | Views
THE founder of Star Force, arguably Bulawayo's most feared street gang in the 1990s, Casper Maphosa has found God, Chronicle reported.

Maphosa, 42, who formed the infamous squad in 1992, told the Chronicle that he finally put behind his life of crime three months ago, having been in and out of jail over the past 20 years. He said Pastor Moccson Moyo, of Way Forward Ministries church preached to him and he saw the light.

Maphosa said he formed Star Force when he was a teenager at Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo (JZ Moyo) High School. At its peak, narrated Maphosa, the gang had 79 members, mostly teenagers. It was systematically run with five departments namely; theft, house breaking, robbery, pick pocketing and a team that offered fake employment.

"The youngest recruit was 12 years old. He made headlines after he killed a security guard at Munyoro Shopping Centre in Nkulumane," said Maphosa.

He said gangster life was so violent and dangerous that a number of Star Force members died in shootouts with the police in Zimbabwe and neighbouring South Africa.

"I formed the gang on 15 October 1992 when I was 19 years old together with my friend, the late Andrew Nkomo. He was shot dead by police after a robbery gone wrong," said the former gang leader.

He told the Chronicle that out of the 79 members, he only knows 10 who are still alive adding that many have died and others fled to South Africa.

"I witnessed my friend die after being shot by the police as we were trying to escape," he said.

"I was also shot in the leg. We had five departments namely; theft, house breaking, robbery, pick pocketing and we faked employment. We used to meet at a bar in Old Pumula and at night clubs like Top Ten. Andrew and I were the ones responsible for paying the other recruits."

He has been living in Gwanda working at a bus terminus where some people provoke him, he said, but refuses to fight back.

So fearsome was his gang that Bulawayo residents from that era tell stories that have assumed mythical proportions about its exploits.

"They once undressed a headmaster at a school in Nketa while he was addressing assembly. They were so daring that even police were afraid of them," said Sehliselo Ngwenya, a former police officer.

Another former cop, Richard Ncube said the Star Force crew had assumed the American gangster culture of having a total disregard of the law.

"We had a torrid time dealing with those boys. We had to be armed every time we were called to a scene where they were causing havoc," said Ncube.

Other Bulawayo residents told of how the gang would erect informal tollgates and collect money from pedestrians and motorists.

"They were virtually all over the city and whispering that they were Star Force was enough to frighten most people into parting with their hard earned money without a struggle," said Simon Ngulube.

Sunday News sports editor Phineas Mukwazo, who wrote extensively about the gang in the 90s, said they were a law unto themselves.

"I remember one day Casper beat up a magistrate with a microphone at Western Commonage courts. Gang members would celebrate getting out of jail by lying on the road, forcing vehicles to queue on the road, waiting for them to leave," said Mukwazo.

He said there was a time when an Assistant Inspector Macheka recruited the gang into the special constabulary division in a bid to neutralise their gangster instincts.

"They made an amazing number of arrests but when an Assistant Inspector Gwezi who was on leave when they were recruited returned, he kicked them out of the force," said Mukwazo.

He said police would flee when the gang went on a rampage and usually sent the anti-riot crew to deal with them. Their escapades eclipsed urban life to rural areas where they also caught the attention of the late musician Khumbulani Moyo who led Tsholotsho Super Sounds. He sang about a crack police officer called Chakanetsa who was the bane of criminals in Tsholotsho.

In the song titled iSantana, he was advocating for Chakanetsa to be sent to Nkulumane suburb to deal with Star Force.

Maphosa, a father of four said police brutally cracked down on the gang in 1994 and a majority of the members were shot.

He said he has been in and out of jail in the last 20 years after his friend was shot dead.

"I've been overseeing a terminus in Gwanda and it's a bad place for me because I'm still exposed to bad things. People come and provoke me but I don't want to fight them. My other friends are still living large driving expensive cars and inviting me to go back to crime but I turn them down."

He said he was working on shooting a film about his gang with a prison officer, Onwell Siziba, as the director.

Maphosa, who is unemployed, said Pastor Moyo touched his soul with Bible verses that include: Ephesians 4 vs 17, 2Corinthians 5 vs 17 and Romans 8vs 1.

"I thank the pastor for helping me repent. When I was testifying at Church that I was the leader of the Star Force, I could see fear in other people's faces. Some wanted to run away but I told them that they should feel free because I'm no longer the person I used to be," he said.

Pastor Moyo said he used to see Maphosa coming to Church but did not know that he was the ring leader of a feared gangster group.

"I was shocked when he gave a testimony that he was a gangster but I can testify that he's now a new creation. He now knows God and I believe he can help other people who are still walking in his old ways to repent," said Moyo.

Source - chronicle

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