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Zane Kilian admits to tracking Charl Kinnear’s phone but denies being part of murder plot

Zane Kilian admits to tracking Charl Kinnear’s phone but denies being part of murder plot
Nafiz Modack (left) and Zane Kilian face charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, including the murder of policeman Charl Kinnear in September 2020. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais

Former rugby player and murder suspect Zane Kilian has admitted he pinged Anti-Gang Unit officer Charl Kinnear’s phone but claims he did not know it would lead to the policeman’s murder.

Murder suspect Zane Kilian has admitted to being hired to intercept communications or track cellphones for specific individuals and that he was compensated for his services, but claims he had no idea the information was being used for illegal purposes. He will also reveal who instructed him to carry out “pings” to track cellphones.

This was the gist of Kilian’s three-page explanation of his not-guilty plea. It was read into the record by his legal representative, advocate Pieter Nel, in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, 11 March.

Kilian and alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack are the main accused in the murder of the Anti-Gang Unit’s Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear on 18 September 2020, in front of his home in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town.

kilian modack kinnear

Zane Kilian (centre) in the Western Cape High Court on 5 May 2023. (Photo: Daily Maverick)

The two are also the main suspects in the attempted murder of defence attorney William Booth in Cape Town on 9 April 2020.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nafiz Modack paid murder accused Zane Kilian almost R100,000, State alleges

According to the State, Kilian’s involvement in the murder of Kinnear and the attempted murder of Booth was that he pinged their phones from the early hours of the day of the incidents and shortly after the shots were fired.

Kilian allegedly pinged Kinnear’s phone 2,116 times until he was killed, and Booth’s phone 500 times on the day of the attempt on his life.

Pinging a cellphone provides a signal revealing the phone’s location, which in these cases was allegedly shared with those carrying out the attacks.

kilian modack kinnear murder

Zane Kilian (front second right) sits next to Nafiz Modack (front left) in the dock at the Western Cape High Court. (Photo: Daily Maverick)

Modack and Kilian, with 13 other accused, collectively face 124 charges including murder, attempted murder, corruption, gangsterism, extortion, communication interception, money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

‘Not aware’ of murder

In his plea explanation to the two counts, Kilian said: “I was not involved in the offence to murder Kinnear. My only role was to do pinging. I was informed that the reason for the pinging was twofold, being that firstly Modack wanted to avoid Kinnear and other police officers as Modack feared for his life, and secondly to do a vehicle repossession.

“I was not aware of the attempted murder of Booth. My only role was to do the pinging. I was not aware of the reason for the pingings and had no interest in a reason for pinging.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘My life is in danger,’ claims Zane Kilian as he pleads for bail in murder case

(Images: Supplied)

Kilian responded to the charge of unlawful communication interception (pinging) by stating that he owned Zane Kilian Tracking and Investigation CC in Gauteng, which provided services such as private investigation, VIP protection and escorting, vehicle recovery and repossession, vehicle tracking, tracing surveillance and phone pings.

Kilian’s lawyer informed the court that his client would make further admissions.

When asked by Judge Robert Henney about the admissions, advocate Nel said: “I will admit that he was hired to illegally intercept communication or cellphones (pinging) for specific individuals and was paid for his services, but he had no idea the information was being used to commit illegal activities.

“I will also make additional admissions and reveal who instructed him to carry out pings.”

Money flow

Meanwhile, charges against the main accused’s brother, Yaseen Modack, portray him as the man who managed cash flow and transactions within the Modacks’ alleged criminal enterprise, paying for criminal acts on behalf of Empire Investment Cars.

Yaseen is charged with five counts of money laundering, patterns of gang activity, corrupt activities involving public officials, fraud and intimidation. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The State claims the enterprise managed illegal operations for the main accused, Nafiz Modack and that it was in operation from December 2017 to January 2021. It also claims that a bank account for Empire Investment was used to conceal Modack’s criminal activities.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Kinnear trial: Links between alleged criminal mastermind Nafiz Modack and 14 co-accused

Hawks investigator Captain Edward du Plessis, part of the task team that probed the assassination of Kinnear and the failed attempt on the life of Booth, said in a September 2021 affidavit that the Empire Investment account was used for criminal activities.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Another former accomplice of alleged gangster Nafiz Modack convicted after striking plea deal

Hand grenade attack ‘staged’

More drama ensued in court on Monday when the plea explanation of Janick Adonis, one of the accused in the attempts to kill Kinnear in November 2019, was read into the record.

Adonis, along with co-accused Amaal Jantjies and Fareez Smith – who entered a plea and sentence agreement with the State – are linked to counts of conspiracy to murder Kinnear in November 2019 in a failed hand grenade attack.

The role of Adonis and Jantjies was laid bare in the plea and sentence agreement that Fareez “Mamokkie” Smith made with the State.

Smith, a confessed member of the Junky Funky Kids (JFK) gang, admitted involvement in the attempted murder of Kinnear and the illegal possession of an explosive device. 

He also admitted that he conspired with another JFK member — Janick Adonis — and Amaal Jantjies to murder Kinnear at his home in Bishop Lavis in November 2019.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Suspect takes plea deal and admits to grenade attempt on life of murdered cop Charl Kinnear

In his plea explanation on Monday, Adonis said he disputed all elements of the offences. He claimed the hand grenade incident was a staged attack orchestrated by the police to implicate Modack.

Adonis said: “My involvement was basically that General André Lincoln and Kinnear approached me whilst I was in custody in another unrelated case with their plan to execute a staged attack on Kinnear, for which they needed me with my contacts to recruit a suitable person for the staged attack.”

Major-General Lincoln, the former head of the Western Cape AGU, retired at the end of October 2021.

“The reason explained to me by SAPS for this plan of the staged attack would be that this staged attack would create the impression that Nafiz Modack through the attacker in this attack attempted murdering Kinnear, resulting in SAPS to confront Modack,” said Adonis.

He further claimed he was informed that the staged attack would involve throwing a hand grenade at Kinnear’s house.

According to Adonis, the SAPS supplied a Mills 36 hand grenade for the attack, but when a friend received it, he exchanged it for a similar-looking hand grenade that lacked a firing pin and explosives.

Facing the accused

Monday’s proceedings were emotional for former Hawks Warrant Officer Nico Heerschap, whose father Nicolaas Heerschap, 74, was killed in July 2019 in Melkbosstrand. It was the first time he had come face to face with the suspects accused of murdering his father.

Heerschap is a State witness who will be called to testify in this matter.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Hitman implicates Modack directly in murder of the father of ex-Hawks officer Nico Heerschap

The plot to kill Heerschap’s father is detailed in a plea and sentence agreement filed by confessed hitman Abongile Nqodi, who claimed Modack had ordered the killing.

It’s alleged that Nico Heerschap, who was investigating Modack at the time, was the intended target.

The trial continues on Wednesday. DM

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