PRIVATE (IN)SECURITY ANALYSIS
DJ Sumbody and Ayepyep saga — unwitting clubgoers and alleged gangster criminality blend dangerously
Beyond the glitzy veneers of some venues in Cape Town are stories of gangsters causing havoc to strongarm business owners into using certain purported security. This is nothing new – and now more accusations in this realm have surfaced, pointing to dangers patrons may face.
Photographs posted to the Instagram account of the Ayepyep Lifestyle Lounge in Cape Town show DJs at work, expensive bottles of alcohol on display, jovial patrons and women dressed similarly to each other carrying sparklers around.
Billed as “the height of celebration” and located in Cape Town’s city centre, it is marketed as a luxury evening venue and restaurant.
A shooting, a murder and court
But beneath this are allegations of gangsters ambushing the venue, as well as a battle over business shares and income that now involves a criminal complaint as well as a court order.
At the centre of the spat are Kagiso Setsetse, who has legally taken on alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and his wife Nicole Johnson.
Daily Maverick has previously reported that both Johnson and Stanfield, who was wounded in a shooting in Johannesburg in 2017, were accused in a criminal case involving allegations that police officers helped create firearm licences for suspects who were not entitled to such documentation.
For his part, Setsetse, along with his business partner, DJ and producer Oupa John Sefoka, better known as DJ Sumbody, created the Ayepyep Lifestyle brand.
Arrests are yet to be made in the case.
The Ayepyep and Sefoka saga involves other allegations of fears.
In May this year, Sunday World reported that Sefoka’s brother Koketso was “living in fear” and claimed Setsetse had threatened him.
Setsetse previously denied this to Daily Maverick and said he was in Dubai (where Ayepyep was advertising an event, involving a pool and yacht party, set to happen from 23 to 27 November this year) and feared returning to South Africa as he believed “I will be killed immediately.”
His alleged fears link to his work.
The Ayepyep Lifestyle brand that he and Sefoka created involved a “lifestyle lounge” in Pretoria that opened in 2016, another opened there the following year and a third in 2019.
Ayepyep in Cape Town was opened two years later.
Alleged events relating to the venue have now resulted in criminal accusations, with Setsetse claiming gangsters have targeted it.
‘Gangsters terrorised customers’
In a criminal complaint, lodged with police in June 2023, Setsetse alleged that two weeks after Ayepyep Cape Town opened in 2021, there was “a situation” at the venue.
“Approximately 10 gangsters stormed into the premises, terrorised customers, throwing things off the tables and conducting themselves in an extremely threatening manner,” Setsetse said in an affidavit backing the complaint to police.
“We took this incident as a further indication of a threat.”
This tallied with allegations that Daily Maverick previously obtained elsewhere — that in April 2021 Ayepyep was the target of gangsters demanding protection money in exchange for providing it with “security.”
Setsetse, in his complaint to police, made other allegations about theft and extortion relating to Ayepyep Cape Town.
Case headed to Cape Town
Last week Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut told Daily Maverick that a case was registered in Brooklyn, Pretoria.
He said it related “to a crime that was allegedly perpetrated in Cape Town.”
“The case docket is en route to Cape Town and is yet to be registered,” Trait added.
“Until such time that the case docket has been received and registered, this office will not be in a position to provide you with any further comments.”
On Monday 26 June, it was not immediately clear if the case docket had been registered yet.
Daily Maverick previously reported that in a court order, dated 28 April this year, problems relating to the running of Ayepyep in Cape Town were exposed.
Also read in Daily Maverick: Beyond DJ Sumbody’s murder – business tensions, underworld fears and a court order
In that court matter, Ayepyep Cape Town and Setsetse were listed as applicants, while respondents included Stanfield and Johnson.
Setsetse claimed Sefoka introduced him to Stanfield who was to deal with security at the venue.
But things did not go smoothly.
Among Setsetse’s allegations in the matter were that in April this year pay points, where patrons money was received, were switched so that the income was instead channelled to an individual connected to Stanfield and Johnson.
Setsetse claimed that R3,474,706.75 was effectively stolen in this manner.
He also alleged that due to threats and under duress, he and Sefoka previously handed over a third of the company’s shares to Johnson’s mother.
The court order effectively banned Stanfield from going to the venue.
News24 reported that in an affidavit responding to Setsetse’s claims, Johnson had said her appointment as general manager, and allocation of shares, was all agreed to and that she had allocated the shares to her mother.
She alleged Setsetse’s claims he was fearful of her, and Stanfield, were “false” and countered that he had made unauthorised withdrawals from the business.
Patrons in danger for decades
Circumstances and allegations surrounding Ayepyep Cape Town, while still under police investigation, point to broader problems relating to criminals continuously operating with impunity and placing patrons — who think they are out to enjoy some downtime — in danger.
They also point to how patrons can inadvertently sponsor criminals because money paid to a venue could end up in the hands of extortionist gangsters demanding so-called protection fees in exchange for not trashing the venue.
The Ayepyep accusations also highlight how gangsterism is not confined to certain areas historically linked to gangs in Cape Town.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Tackling Cape Town’s deep-rooted extortion problem means tackling the city’s gangs too
Gangsters have operated in the city centre, which is not known as a gangsterism hotspot, for decades.
Mobs with baseball bats
In the 1990s a group of men, some armed with baseball bats, would be despatched to clubs in Cape Town where they would smash whatever was in their path — afterwards, the venue owners would be offered bouncer services that would put an end to the ambushes.
Such allegations have persisted.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Cops target Cape Town security firm accused of having another business’s shotguns and pistols
Back in the 1990s, it was Cyril Beeka, a rumoured state intelligence agent, who ran a security outfit in Cape Town’s city centre, which some police officers pointed to as an extortion racket, and which one said was a front for the apartheid police’s Security Branch.
Beeka had ties to the Hard Livings gang.
There were suspicions that control over bouncers at venues equated to the control over illicit drugs.
Beeka was assassinated in Cape Town in 2011 and following his murder, other figures, including murder plot suspect Mark Lifman and alleged Mandrax kingpin Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, whose names have courted criminal accusations, became synonymous with nightclub security.
Cop collusion suspicions
Read more in Daily Maverick: The Enforcers – Inside Cape Town’s Deadly Nightclub Battles
In December 2017 Modack was arrested along with four other men in Cape Town on charges relating to extortion and bouncer operations — it was basically alleged he had taken on the Lifman and Booysen crew to try and gain control of security operations in the city centre and further afield.
Modack and his co-accused were acquitted in that case in 2020, but he has since been charged with several other crimes, including murder, for which he is set to go on trial for.
The alleged nightclub security takeover he was accused of being central to was punctuated with violence in Cape Town and in some instances, patrons were wounded in shootings at venues. DM