South Africa

Cape Town Mafia: Distilling the meaning of fear and loathing

By Marianne Thamm 24 January 2018

Now entering its second week, the bail hearing of five alleged underworld kingpins in Cape Town was bogged down on Tuesday by abstract arguments about what, exactly, defines a threat. The men are accused of conducting a reign of terror in a protection racket turf war over the night-time economy in the city. The case, should it make it to trial, promises to be one of the most sensational of the decade, looping back to Johannesburg as well as other cities and roping in a cast of crooked cops, lawyers and politicians. By MARIANNE THAMM.

One version of events goes something like this.

A bunch of heavies pull up one night in a convoy of at least 12 vehicles including a Porsche Cayenne and a BMW X5 at a hugely popular Cape Town beachfront entertainment venue, the Grand Africa Cafe in Granger Bay.

It’s a place teeming with A-list celebrities, tourists and other party animals and lovelies Instagramming the shit out of the sunset, their cocktails, their clothes and their smooth moves.

The venue has already “contracted” a group to take care of security, but on this particular occasion, in April 2017, two of the men who arrived as part of the convoy get out and inform the brand manager of the Grand that from this day forth, their particular “security firm” will be taking care of the safety of the precious, carefree and well-heeled patrons.

In this version, the manager is only too thrilled. Throws up his hands and thanks his lucky stars.

He agrees immediately. All around him, news of stabbings in clubs, of shootings in bars, restaurants and hotels has filtered through the mean streets. These are dystopian, troubling times; one never knows where the next threat might come from. Better get really good security and these guys look the part at least.

A few months later, two men, one of them whom you, as the manager, recognise as a high-ranking member of the Sexy Boys gang as well as the prison gang the 26s, a man who has done over 10 years in jail for murder, arrives to negotiate a bigger security fee for an event you are hosting. It is the start of the Cape Town summer holiday season and you are expecting 3,000 revellers. This guy tagged along during the first “business deal” with the new security company.

You initially think their fee might be a little steep, you tentatively mention this. But the two guys are veerrry reluctant to drop their price – times are tough and everything is so expensive. Towards the end of negotiations the ex-murderer and gangster suggests a compromise. You breathe a sigh of relief and clinch the deal. No sweat, no threat. Everyone’s happy.

The second telling of the story is different.

In this version the manager fears so much for his life after he has been paid the visit by the new security outfit with their revised holiday rates that he lays a complaint with the police. Or so the investigating officer, Colonel Charl Kinnear, tells the court.

Essentially the issue is: there is no way you are going to tell two of the city’s most feared and vicious gangsters to fuck right off when they tell you to cough up over R100,000 for ONE event. The only way to stop it is to make a case. Which he does.

The matter is so sensitive Colonel Kinnear lodges it at first as only an “inquiry” rather than a CAS. He does this because registering his investigation as a CAS would mean it would be in the SAPS system and could be seen by anyone. At the start Kinnear needed to keep his cards close to his chest – some big names in the SAPS have cropped up as accomplices to the gangsters. And there are the names of the witnesses too who needed to be kept safe.

And here we are.

Back again in lower magistrate’s Court 16 which on Tuesday was a heaving mass of be-robed attorneys appearing in the continuing bail application of alleged gangsters Nafiz Modack, Colin Booysen, Jacques Cronje, Ashley Fields and Carl Lakay who have all been in custody since their arrest on 15 December on charges of extortion and racketeering.

The men originally only faced one charge of extortion but seven further charges were added by Senior DPP Advocate Esna Erasmus last week. The charges were also pimped up to Schedule Five offences under the Criminal Procedures Act because an amount greater than R100,000 is involved.

Things move slowly in Court 16 where the system is still trapped in the pen and paper age. The only evidence of technology is the Skype-like hook-up to Pollsmoor Prison so the state can save money on transporting alleged perps all the way into town. Somewhere in the room an ancient air conditioner moans, circulating the odour of crime and grime.

Last week, before Colonel Kinnear was rushed to hospital with sudden chest pains (he’s okay BTW) Modack’s legal counsel, Advocate Edwin Grobbelaar, played a recorded telephone conversation that took place on 30 November last year between Modak and Radley Dijkers – the Grand’s brand manager and the complainant in the matter.

It went like this;

Modack: Hello (pause). Morning. How you? (pause) Are you sleeping or still working?

Dijkers: No I am at home at the moment.

Modack: Tell me quickly Radley. You’re the manager by the Grand ne?

Dijkers: I’m the brand manager ja.

Modack: Tell me, when myself and Colin had a meeting with you on Saturday, did myself or Colin try to intimidate your or threaten you or hurt you in any way?

Dijkers: No. No. No. That is what I told Leon yesterday.

Modack: Ok

Dijkers: I told Leon yesterday there was no intimidation at all.

Modack: Na, I just wanted to know.

Dijkers: We made an arrangement because you guys said your costs were higher than expected, so I paid you guys some more money for the security services.

Modack: That’s normal business. But now someone is running around there saying you were threatened with a gun and I dunno what klomp kak (load of rubbish) still.

Dijkers: Where’s that coming from?

Modack: I think its that other guy, Steve.

Dijkers: Stewart

Modack: Stewart, ja, that’s working with Tim and Andre them. But it’s fine. It’s not a problem man. No one done that so it’s not a problem.

The rest of the call is taken up with Modack extracting from Dijkers the line that the “owner” of the Grand, identified only as Sue, had been thrilled with their service.

Modack: Why did Sue want us and she doesn’t want anyone else?

Dijkers: Because you guys have given her the protection… So you’ve given her… you made her feel safe uhm er that’s what she wants. She doesn’t want anyone else coming in to the Grand to uhm, to do the security.

It was this admission by Dijkers, said Grobbelaar, that proved that his client was a legit businessman who did not threaten anyone. The state’s case, he opined, would crumble because of the revelations in the phone call. Grobbelaar suggested the case would not even make it to trial, so strong is the evidence.

Grobbelaar wanted to know from Colonel Kinnear what exactly it was about Modack’s bedside manner or his tone in the phone call that could possibly be viewed as “threatening” or “intimidating”.

On Tuesday Colonel Kinnear told the court that Dijkers had informed him that he had gone along with Modack in the phone call because he had been terrified that he would be killed or have his head blown off.

Dijkers, said Kinnear, knew that Modack and Booysen (the brother of the leader of the Sexy Boys Jerome “Donkey” Booysen) were gangsters and he feared them. Which is why, he told the court, the men should not be granted bail.

Kinnear said that listening to the recorded call it was clear that Modack was leading the complainant to say certain things.

Grobbelaar asked Kinnear whether his client had specifically said he would trash his establishment or hurt or kill the complainant, to which the seasoned detective replied that Modack et al did not need to.

Clubs in the area had been trashed in the turf war, there had been casualties, both civilian, in the crossfire, and doormen had been targeted.

When informed that Dijkers had been threatened by the demeanour of Modack and Booysen, Grobbelaar asked the Colonel what he meant and whether he could define “threatening demeanour”.

Bruce Hendricks, Booysen’s legal representative, said that while his client may have done time for murder and had been a gang member, he had been a legitimate businessman since his release from prison in 2005. So much so that he was even up to date with his tax bill. Booysen, said Hendricks, was a family man who owned taxis. His monthly income from this was R60,000. His client, said Hendricks, was unlikely to be a flight risk and should be granted bail.

Asked by Hendricks why he opposed bail for his client, Kinnear replied, “My witnesses are of the opinion they could be hurt. They know that Mr Booysen is a gangster, they fear for their lives. They are afraid they will be killed.”

Is that the only reason?” Hendricks asked a startled Kinnear.

Hendricks suggested that there needed to be evidence of a threat or some threat of violence in this matter and asked Kinnear to define his idea of a threat.

Kinnear replied that he had evidence that Booysen had later sent a message to Dijkers that he would “rally support from the Cape Flats”.

Earlier in the morning a sixth man, Grant Veroni, the “director” of the security company that employs Modack, Booysen and the other men, made a brief appearance in Court 16. Veroni had handed himself over to police on Monday after the threat of arrest for extorting money from the Bungalow restaurant in Clifton in December. He is expected to appear alongside the other men later.

The hearing continues on Wednesday. DM

Photo: Grand Cafe and Beach, Cape Town. Photo: Klaus Nahr (Flickr)

Gallery

While we have your attention...

An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money - though not nearly as much as its absence.

Every article, every day, is our contribution to Defending Truth in South Africa. If you would like to join us on this mission, you could do much worse than support Daily Maverick's quest by becoming a Maverick Insider.

Click here to become a Maverick Insider and get a closer look at the Truth.


DAYS OF ZONDO

Banks tell inquiry of their resistance to Zwane’s bullying tactics

By Jessica Bezuidenhout