Maverick Citizen


Cellphone pinging service was used in a gang war, ex-policeman tells court during Zane Kilian bail hearing

Cellphone pinging service was used in a gang war, ex-policeman tells court during Zane Kilian bail hearing
Murder accused Zane Kilian appears at the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on 10 March 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

A former policeman, Bradley Goldblatt, told the police before the murder of Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) section commander Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear in September 2020 that the detective’s phone was being pinged.

Goldblatt’s revelations are contained in an affidavit that was read into the record by prosecutor Greg Wolmarans in the final arguments at the bail hearing in the Bellville Regional Court of Zane Kilian, who is charged with murder for his alleged role in Kinnear’s assassination.

Golblatt said he had informed police on 3 September already that Kinnear’s phone was being tracked by Kilian. 

On 16 September 2020 Goldblatt said he noticed a “significant increase in the pinging” and again informed the police. Nothing was done and two days later on Friday, 18 September 2020, Goldblatt learned that Kinnear had been shot and killed outside his house in Gearing Street in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town. 

Goldblatt said that on the evening of the murder, “I was contacted by a warrant officer and I asked him how did this happen after I gave the warning weeks before.”

His version corroborates evidence from the task team investigating the death of Kinnear that intelligence had clearly indicated that Kinnear’s life was in imminent danger. 

This was conveyed to Crime Intelligence and the Hawks, but no action was taken, said Goldblatt.

The court also heard about the relationship between Goldblatt and Kilian,  which dates back to November 2018. 

At the time Kilian was doing bank repossessions on vehicles and was interested in location-based services (which track – or ping – cellphones) to assist him.

Goldblatt’s father, Ivan, had started the company, I Track Solutions, at the beginning of 2018 and Bradley became a partner in September that year. 

The company is a wholesaler of location-based services. Goldblatt said the supplier is a company called LAD which is a division of 3DT Group in the US.

The court heard that Goldblatt provided Kilian with his log-in details as well as his password and always used the reference “Boss” or “Zain” on Goldblatt’s instruction.

“I started to sell him 50 pings per month for R2,100. He never used his quota for the month and I always had trouble collecting payment from him. This changed in March 2020,” said Goldblatt.

He said there had been an incident where Kilian had asked Goldblatt for  1,000 pings. 

“I asked him how he was going to pay for the pings. From March 2020 he never had a problem with payments and paid upfront,” Goldblatt said.

Kilian then began to top up with 5,000 pings per month after his monthly allocation had run out, Goldblatt said, and this kept increasing dramatically. Kilian had no problems paying this time around.

The increase in pings coincided with the close to R2.3-million that investigators discovered had been deposited into Kilian’s account between March 2020 and September 2020.

“On 1 September 2020 I received an automatic alert from the LAD system that the user Zane Kilian is repeatedly pinging the same number. I audited Zane’s profile and concentrated on the numbers of Charl K, Sgt Tisha Vs Horst Agu and William Booth,” he said.

Goldblatt did a Google search on Booth and began reading online articles on the Cape Town lawyer.

He also searched for the AGU and found articles about alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack and Kinnear. 

“That’s when I realised that Charl K is in fact Charl Kinnear. I realised that the system is being used in a gang war,” Goldblatt said.

On the income generated by Kilian – R2.3-million – between March and September 2020, Joubert said the inevitable conclusion could only be that Kilian had not been honest and forthright as to how he had generated the money.

More information was revealed in the replying affidavit of Hawks Captain Pieter Joubert. Joubert indicated that a second Hawks investigator in this matter, Captain Edward du Plessis, on 19 January received a phone call on his official SAPS number from a private number. 

The caller threatened Du Plessis and informed him that there was “a R1-million hit on his head”. 

The prosecution told the court a person of interest has been identified, a warrant of arrest issued and attempts made to apprehend the suspect.

Joubert also stated that Kilian had performed a total of 5,307 pings on several individuals who had had no debt problems. 

He underlined that Kilian did not use the LAD system primarily for debt collection but rather to monitor prominent figures in the Cape Town underworld and law enforcement.

“In my view, based on the available information, the statement of Kilian in his second affidavit that he is ‘in the job of debt collection and repossessing vehicles’, simply does not stack up against the evidence.”

On the income generated by Kilian – R2.3-million – between March and September 2020, Joubert said the inevitable conclusion could only be that Kilian had not been honest and forthright as to how he had generated the money.

Kilian, in his replying affidavit, said the only evidence linking him to the murder charge was the pinging.

The former rugby player maintained he has “no extensive electronic skills”, didn’t know how to send an email, wasn’t part of syndicate and didn’t know Kinnear or Booth.

“There is a strong likelihood that I would not be convicted on murder. Although the charges against me are very serious, the State has a very weak case,” he contended.

As to why he should be released on bail, Kilian said his family was struggling financially since his incarceration, that he had lost his job and income as result of his arrest, and that it would be impossible for him to interfere with the investigation should he be released. 

Kilian’s advocate, Marius Botha, painted a picture of his client as a debt collector who repossessed vehicles and only pinged phones to get the locations of where the vehicles might be. 

Botha said there was no way Kilian could foresee that Kinnear would be killed.

He contended that the State’s case was built on circumstantial evidence and that Kilian had an alibi for the day of the murder – he had, in fact, been at a chemist in Springs.

Wolmarans said Kilian was asking for the State to put a “high degree of trust” in him. He said Kilian did not merit bail and that his application revealed a person who could not be trusted.

“The contention by the accused that he pinged in order to ‘trace and repossess vehicles’ is patently false,” said Wolmarans. 

“He surveilled to the point of being able to predict the expected time of arrival of the deceased [Kinnear] from different locations to his home address. He did this in order to guide another to best carry out the murder,” Wolmarans said.

The State acknowledged that Kilian was the father of an autistic child, but argued he had failed to submit any medical evidence to support his claims that his child had suffered “a meltdown” as a result of his incarceration.

It is against this backdrop that the State submitted that bail for Kilian be dismissed. A decision will be delivered on Thursday, 18 March. MC/DM


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