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Nafiz ‘Pablo’ Modack et al assumed aliases from Narcos TV series, high court hears

Nafiz ‘Pablo’ Modack et al assumed aliases from Narcos TV series, high court hears
Nafiz Modack in the dock at the Western Cape Division of the High Court in Cape Town on 1 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais) | Coloured mugshot of Pablo Escobar taken by the regional Colombia control agency in Medellín in 1976. (Photo: Colombian National Police / Wikipedia)

Alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack and his associates used the names of characters from the Narcos television series as aliases, the Western Cape Division of the High Court has been told.

Warrant Officer Kelvin Shunmugam of the Durban Central K9 Unit testified in the Western Cape Division of the High Court that alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack assumed the name “Pablo” and one of his associates, Anwar Gallie, was referred to as “Gustavo”.

These, he said, were the names of characters in the Narcos television series, based on the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.  

Escobar, the leader of one of the largest cocaine processing and distributing organisations in the world, was shot and killed in December 1993 in Medellin by police officers.  

Shunmugam made the claims while discussing his relationship with Shanil Maharaj, Gallie and Modack, as well as his role in the wrongful arrest of “Mr C”, an asset management professional and State witness who fled to Dubai after allegedly being threatened by Maharaj and Modack’s enforcer, Jacques Cronje. Judge Robert Henney ruled that the identity of Mr C cannot be revealed.

The threats stem from a high-risk investment Maharaj made with Mr C in 2019, an investment that he lost.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Modack trial — State witness links dud investment to failed hit on lawyer William Booth 

Shunmugam’s testimony relates to the charges of kidnapping, intimidation and extortion against Modack and Cronje. They are among the 124 charges including murder, attempted murder, corruption, gangsterism, extortion, and the illegal interception of communications which Modack and his 13 co-accused are facing.

The other accused are Zane Kilian, Ziyaad Poole, Moegamat Brown, Riyaat Gesant, Fagmeed Kelly, Mario Petersen, Petrus Visser, Janick Adonis, Amaal Jantjies, former Anti-Gang Unit Sergeant Ashley Tabisher, Yaseen Modack, Mogamat Mukudam and Ricardo Morgan.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Kinnear murder trial State witness explains how ‘pinging’ can track a cellphone user’s location

On 16 June 2020, Gallie along with Modack, eight high-ranking police officers, two former officers, and underworld figures and gun dealers were arrested on gun-related charges. 

Modack appeared alongside Gallie and Sergeant Lesiba Rodney Masoga.  Modack and Gallie were released on R10,000 bail each while Mosaga was released on R5,000 bail. The men allegedly colluded with officers at the Central Firearm Registry to procure firearm licences unlawfully. The arrests came after a three-year investigation.

Read in Daily Maverick: “SAPS drag in alleged underworld figure and 10 cops after illegal gun licence racket exposed”

However, the charges in that case were provisionally withdrawn in the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court.

Narcos characters

Before mentioning the Narcos characters, Shunmugam told the high court about his obsession with Modack, whom he referred to as a “Robin Hood” of Cape Town. He said he wanted to meet Modack and to do so abused his position as a police officer to falsely arrest Mr C. 

Shunmugam said he played a key role in Mr C’s arrest on 3 April 2020, and Modack called him to help with the arrest. Shunmugam said that Mr C was immediately released after intervention by a higher authority. 

He told the court that one day he went to a friend’s house, where “I met Anwar Gallie, who was also introduced as ‘Gustavo’. During a video phone call, I heard Gallie talking to Modack and referring to him as ‘Pablo’. When I spoke to Modack, I was also told that he is ‘Pablo’.

“I knew that this was the name of the character in the Narcos television series,” he told the high court.

State prosecutor Adnaan Gelderbloem told the court, “Payments made by the Modack enterprise allegedly referenced ‘Pablo’ and other characters from the Narcos television series. This is related to the money laundering count which the State intends leading at a later stage.”  

The trial continues. DM

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