over aspects of the underworld have been playing out for years, leaving behind a trail of unsolved murders, shootings and arrests. On the night of March 29, 2017, after months of simmering tensions, a criminal coup was carried out in the Western Cape. A new faction emerged in South Africa’s underworld and immediately started to grab control of nightclub security from a more established grouping. The apparent power tussle, which some say has been orchestrated by intelligence operatives, has ignited gang violence. The illicit drug, perlemoen and tobacco trade has been shaken up. It has exposed mysterious relationships between underworld figures and police officers. Rumoured links to politicians have been unearthed. This ongoing power struggle has resulted in several gun battles, murders and skirmishes on the streets of Cape Town. Violence has spilled into entertainment venues. Meanwhile, bystanders remain at risk.
- Some of the key figures who have been involved in nightclub security
A Brief History of the Volatile Bouncer Industry
The nightclub security industry has for years been the centre of an ongoing tug of war between different figures wanting to dominate it. This ongoing power struggle has resulted in a newer grouping now taking on an older, more established grouping.
The move by the newer faction to take over nightclub security operations has resulted in a surge of violence. This has been seen in the Western Cape particularly, but is not isolated to this province.
Convicted Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir’s name has cropped up as being a link between the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Security personnel is said to represent muscle and power in the underworld.
This is a brief breakdown of how power in the underworld has shifted, leading up to the current tussle for control, mainly involving two groupings.
In the 1980s and 1990s, underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka, who was killed in March 2011, worked with Yuri “the Russian” Ulianitski and a group of Moroccans who were well known in bouncer circles. Beeka ran the company Pro Security. Ulianitski was killed in a shooting while driving in Milnerton on May 21, 2007. His four-year-old daughter Yulia was also killed in the incident. No arrests have been made for their murders.
In a 2012 court case, it emerged that the police’s organised crime unit in Gauteng had been investigating Beeka – who was rumoured to have worked for the National Intelligence Agency – for murder, drug trafficking and trading in illegal diamonds. A question had also emerged about why Beeka had been in the company of Moe Shaik, the former head of SA’s secret service.
An investigating officer had testified there had been rumours, but no evidence, to back up the theory that Beeka was working for national intelligence. This court case centred on Serbian fugitive Dobrosav Gavric, who had been driving Beeka when he was murdered. Gavric is wanted in Serbia, where he faces a 35-year jail sentence for murdering two people and assassinating Serbia’s most feared warlord, Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, 17 years ago.
Businessman Jacques Cronje had helped Beeka run Pro Security. Pro Security’s main competitor was the company Professional Protection Services (PPS), which later went on to be run by businessman Andre Naude.
Following Beeka’s murder, Pro Security and PPS amalgamated to form a new company, Specialised Protection Services (SPS). SPS was run by Naude, as well as businessmen Mark Lifman and Richard van Zyl. It was launched on November 1, 2011. SPS company directors also included brothers Colin and Jerome “Donkie” Booysen.
Jerome Booysen was named in the Gavric court case as the head of the Sexy Boys gang and as a suspect in Beeka’s murder. Nothing appears to have come of those claims and he was never arrested.
Cronje, also involved with SPS, later fell out with his associates after he faced allegations of misappropriating company money, assault, and missing meetings. In June 2017 Cronje was arrested for alleged drug dealing, after cocaine was found in the vehicle in which he was driving in the city centre. Those close to Cronje said rivals had set him up to be arrested with drugs.
Meanwhile, months after its 2011 launch, SPS was shut down as it was not registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, as required by law. Lifman and Naude faced more than 300 charges as a result, but were later acquitted on all the counts. It later emerged, just months after SPS collapsed, that a new company – apparently run by Van Zyl, who previously worked with the duo – had emerged. It was named Lifestyle Entertainment Services.
The new company’s existence, while apparently not linked to the incident, came into the spotlight following the murder in 2015 of doorman Joe Kanyona at the popular Long Street pub, Beerhouse. At the time, three suspects were arrested for conspiring to kill Kanyona.
Late in 2016, murmurings started surfacing that a new grouping was making inroads in the underworld. Businessman Nafiz Modack, who was close to Beeka, is said to have started taking control of club security in Cape Town in March 2017, months after initial tensions started simmering within the underworld. Ructions have resulted in several shootings and murders.
It is understood Modack, who is rumoured to be an informant, but who has denied this, and his affiliates are taking on figures who previously dominated the bouncer industry.
Those who previously dominated the nightclub security industry, as well as those intent on dominating it, have insisted they are against drugs and crime.
In December 2017 Modack and six others with alleged ties to the underworld were arrested. Modack was charged with extortion. Explosive allegations, about murder plots and top cops who are allegedly working with Modack or gangs, emerged during his bail application.
Established – Protection Industry Players
Businessman Mark Lifman of Sea Point, Cape Town, has had several brushes with the law.
In 2015 he was acquitted of hundreds of bouncer industry-related charges for having run the company Specialised Protection Services without the necessary registration.
The South African Revenue Service has also been after Lifman. In 2016 he was served with a R388m tax bill. In a 2012 court case, it emerged he was being investigated by the organised crime unit.
Lifman has maintained he is a businessman, involved in the property industry, and with no links to crime whatsoever.
Controversial businessman Andre Naude has worked closely with Mark Lifman. In 2015 he was also acquitted of 313 charges related to their allegedly operating a major bouncer company without being registered with the private security regulatory authority.
Naude has been involved in the nightclub security and protection industry for years. He has also been involved in the construction industry. In October 2014 he was wounded in a shooting in Bellville, Cape Town. The suspected shooter, Bora Unuvar, of Turkey, apparently fled the country.
JEROME “DONKIE” BOOYSEN
Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, of Belhar, Cape Town, was in 2012 named as head of the Sexy Boys gang during a court case involving a Serbian fugitive. He was also identified as a suspect in the 2011 murder of underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka.
However, nothing ever came of this.
Booysen, who was wounded in a shooting in May 2017 and again in another shooting on October 2017, has denied any involvement in criminal activities. He is a former City of Cape Town employee.
Colin Booysen is Jerome Booysen’s brother. He has stayed mainly under the radar in terms of what is in the public domain. He is said to be highly influential.
Booysen was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Belhar in May 2013.
Moving In – The ‘newcomers’
Nafiz Modack is said to be heading a group intent on taking over nightclub security.
His LinkedIn profile says he works at Protection Services International. Modack, according to a source, is based in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. He told News24 he had brought in men from Eastern Europe to bolster his grouping. Modack is said to have been close to underworld boss and rumoured spook Cyril Beeka who was murdered in 2011. Some sources have questioned who Modack may actually work for. He has insisted he’s a security analyst and “ordinary citizen.”
THE BESPECTACLED MAN IN THE TRENCH COAT
This man, based on CCTV footage and interviews with several sources, has been spotted inside and outside several clubs with members of the new faction.
News24 also spotted him on the evening of April 17, 2017, outside a club in the city centre, surrounded by men, some of them armed.
His identity is not yet clear.
Later in 2017 he left the new grouping of men.
The identity of the man said to be financing the new grouping is not yet clear. His initials are WC. His surname has two spellings. He is said to be from Pakistan. He has a UK passport. Those close to him have said he is a businessman, has been involved in the meat business in the UK and that his father is a politician. These details are unconfirmed. A source with ties to him has referred to him as “a ghost” as so little about him seems to be known. News24 has blurred a photograph, supplied and believed to be of him, as News24 has not seen him in person.
Colin Booysen is the brother of alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome Booysen, who is linked to a previous security company that at one stage dominated the bouncer industry.
Colin’s apparent close ties to Nafiz Modack mean he may have switched allegiances. He has been photographed with Modack.
“I did warn them u wana take wats mine il take wats yours 2nyt an I dun just that, im no gangster im a businessman and only fear god no one else [sic].”
– Nafiz Modack, March 30, 2017, in an email to News24
Inside the Takeover – Part 1
Underworld operations have for years been conducted on the periphery of public scrutiny. Events have usually surfaced into the public eye following high profile killings or crimes.
Over the years the underworld, on the surface, therefore appears to have experienced pockets of calm between incidents. After underworld boss Cyril Beeka was murdered in 2011, there were some movements. Businessman Nafiz Modack is said to have kept a low profile after Beeka’s killing.
A UK and Pakistani businessman, according to one source with intimate knowledge of what happened, is said to have started moving around Cape Town in 2014 and started ruffling rivals’ feathers late in 2016. This however has not been confirmed with the businessman as News24 has not managed to contact him.
In 2016 there was friction between two key underworld players over a mutual contact that one had apparently ordered an attack on. This attack involved the petrol bombing of a tyre business in May 2016. It is said to have caused a split and resulted in a rift.
Two factions therefore emerged. Modack is said to be heading the one. Colin Booysen and the UK businessman are among those said to be close to him.
In an exclusive interview with News24 on September 21, 2017, Modack explained in detail how he had become involved in the private security industry following Beeka’s murder. The same day Beeka was killed he had received an SMS threat saying: “You next.” He then started picking up where Beeka had left off.
The club takeover has been marred with violent incidents.
On November 27, 2016, a man was kicked and beaten inside a popular Cape Town establishment. It is understood he was targeted during a scuffle said to be linked to the takeover.
Tensions then started simmering and months later boiled over.
Tensions apparently started mounting in Richwood, where a property of Modack’s went under the hammer. A source with intimate knowledge of what happened told News24 that the property was being auctioned off as part of a voluntary sequestration process. However, the source said that because a buyer had already been found, the auction was not meant to go ahead. However, it did. Modack, the source said, then went to the property to try and iron out the matter. The source said controversial businessman Mark Lifman was there and this was when tension between the two started mounting.
A second property of Modack’s was later auctioned off in Parow. The source said this was where things became violent. Lifman, Andre Naude and several other men were there. Sources have said that Modack tried to intimidate and threaten those at the auction. But in an emailed response to News24, he dismissed this. A fight then apparently broke out in the street. A source said that after the brawl in Parow a group of men decided to take control of the lucrative nightclub security industry.
Of what happened, Modack said: “I did warn them u wana take wats mine il take wats yours 2nyt an I dun just that, im no gangster im a businessman and only fear god no one else [sic].”
The group of men went to the city centre strip club later that night of the auction and tried to force their way in.
Police confirmed the incident and said it was resolved. News24 understands security staff at the establishment were fired, then rehired by their previous employer’s rivals. The strip club became the scene of several stand offs between two groups of men.
Inside the Takeover – Part 2
The new grouping has convened and visited several venues around the Western Cape. This is apparently part of their actions to take over security.
Modack has insisted they are not into violence and are rooting out crime and drugs in clubs.
Members of one grouping at one point effectively banned members of the rival faction from entering certain areas in town.
In an audio clip leaked to News24 by a source with intimate knowledge of what is happening in the underworld, two men discuss the club matter and refer to a person by the name of Andre. Naude confirmed to News24 that in the clip one man, who he names, is talking to one of his men. In the clip one man, the one close to Naude, says he does not understand why “the fight” is happening.
The second asks: “Why are you with Andre them in town, when Andre is banned from town?”
He then says he heard drugs are being pushed into clubs in town. The first man says he is not “chasing after” anyone.
The second man says: “Andre don’t have any clubs anymore [sic]. The message was given to Andre.”
Naude told News24 a threat was made against him in a part of the clip not provided to News24.
In April 2017, in an apparent club takeover, a man can be seen ramming his way into a venue in the West Coast.
A group of men then make their way into the full establishment after the door is forced open. Since then several other related incidents have played out around Cape Town.
Incidents also started playing out in Johannesburg.
Modack told News24: ”We out numbered their VIP protection security at emperors [sic].”
News24 was sent several images of Modack posing with firearms and with a group of men outside clubs.
Firearms and Gunshots
Several shootings have been linked to the underworld turf battle. The number of wounded and killed has steadily been climbing.
These are just a few of the incidents in which people have been wounded, targeted or firearms seized:
– On the evening of October 19 two men, one disguised as a woman, apparently tried to get to wounded alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen who was in a Cape Town hospital after being wounded in a shooting in the Cape Town International Airport the morning before.
A second person was also wounded in this shooting.
One suspect was arrested at the hospital.
– Alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome Booysen was wounded in a shooting in Cape Town International Airport on October 18, 2017. It was the third attempt on his life in six months. A second person was also wounded – they were struck by a stray bullet.
Sources with close knowledge of the matter said Booysen was targeted at the airport in a revenge attack – this in response to the shooting of Donovan Jacobs, who they identified as a 28s gang member, in a Stellenbosch nightclub on October 14. Nicole Muller, 30, a mother of two who was at the venue to celebrate a friend’s birthday, was also killed in that shooting. A third person was wounded.
– On July 6, 2017, alleged 28s gang leader Ralph Stanfield was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Melrose, Johannesburg. On July 12 a man believed to be one of Stanfield’s bodyguards was arrested outside a hospital in Cape Town, allegedly with an unlicenced firearm and ammunition. Stanfield was a patient in the hospital.
In 2014 he faced charges relating to firearms. It was alleged that three police officers from the Central Firearm Registry in Pretoria created gun licence applications on the police’s official computer system. It had been alleged these licences were then issued to gangsters and drug dealers in the Western Cape, including Stanfield. In 2016 these charges were withdrawn.
– Alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen was wounded in a shooting in Elsies River on May 8, 2017. Sources said he had been on his way to visit another man, Deon Williams, better known as Igor, who was also shot, in the Cravenby area. Williams died.
– On May 4, 2017, at least one person was shot inside a popular nightclub in Loop Street, which has before been the scene of violence, in what appears to be more intense fighting in a battle over the bouncer trade.
– Police seized firearms and ammunition from a group of men who had again gathered outside a Cape Town city centre strip club on April 21, 2017. News24 had witnessed the group first make their way into a club along Riebeek Street.
A few of their luxury vehicles were parked outside the club, where a smaller group of men remained behind. A man, clutching an item the shape of a very long rifle and covered in what appeared to be canvas, patrolled outside.
Police later gave the firearms back to the men after they turned to the Western Cape High Court in order to have the weapons returned.
A notice of motion in the matter said the firearms – three shotguns, three Taurus pistols, a 9mm Browning and two 9mm Caniks – were ballistically tested to see if any of the weapons were linked to a shooting in Café Caprice in April 17, 2017. It said the firearms belonged to individuals and two security companies – Eagle VIP Security and Skhosana Maponyane Hall Phillips and Khumalo. The latter was a sister company of The Security Group, a company which claimed to have links to intelligence services. The State Security Agency denied these links.
On July 12, 2017, some of the previously confiscated guns were again seized at The Security Group, this time by the Hawks.
Three suspects were arrested for the shooting but were later released from custody as the charges they faced were withdrawn. After the shooting a source provided the name of a man who he claimed was the gunman and said he had left a form of identity in a vehicle at the scene. Another source said clothing had also been left in the vehicle so that it further looked like the person named had carried out the shooting. These items were said to have been planted. The man named by the source was never arrested.
The probe, now conducted by the Hawks, as well as police and other units, was a focal point in a Labour Court case which played out in Cape Town.
It includes looking into how cops were smuggling stolen police guns to gangsters, how firearms were being smuggled into and out of South Africa and the possibility that guns are being stockpiled for use against the state.
Labour Court papers show that at least 1 066 murders, 1 403 attempted murders and 315 other crimes were committed with guns stolen from police. Among those incidents were the shootings of 261 children. About 1 200 of these stolen guns are still unaccounted for.
Some of these firearms were believed to have been used in several gang shootings carried out in Cape Town in mid-2017.
During the case claims arose that police management, despite knowing the extent of the mammoth gun smuggling investigation, pulled resources off the probe instead of dedicating more to it.
The case focused on Major-General Jeremy Vearey and Major-General Peter Jacobs, two senior Western Cape police officers who approached the court in 2016 after they believed they were effectively demoted.
In court papers they said former MP Vytjie Mentor’s state capture statement to police made it seem as if they were part of a political faction, and that ultimately led to their sudden transfers which jeopardised critical national investigations.
These major investigations included looking into whether illicit firearms were being smuggled out of South Africa, if firearms were being stockpiled against the state by right wing groups, and how cops were colluding with gangsters to smuggle guns to them.
Vearey and Jacobs said Mentor’s statement, and the fact that they regularly reported to then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega about the firearms probe, resulted in them being sidelined.
In June 2016, Vearey, who was deputy provincial commissioner for detective services, was suddenly shifted to a position he had previously filled – commander of the Cape Town cluster of police stations.
Jacobs, who headed the province’s crime intelligence unit, was appointed Wynberg cluster commander.
They found these moves unfair.
On August 3, 2017, the Labour Court ruled in favour of the two, setting aside their June 2016 deployments. But national police are still taking on the duo.
Arrests in the mammoth gun probe so far include that of ex-police colonel Chris Prinsloo, now serving a jail sentence, who previously said he had sold at least 2 000 firearms to Rondebosch businessman Irshaad “Hunter” Laher, who allegedly paid him to steal guns meant for destruction.
Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves are the accused in a case linked to the alleged selling of firearms, meant to have been destroyed by police, to gangsters around the Western Cape.
In August 2017 it emerged that 33 firearms – exhibits and state issued – from the Bellville South and the Mitchells Plain police stations could not be accounted for.
Police minister Fikile Mbalula said these guns had likely been given to gangsters.
Drastic plans were therefore in focus to try and prevent the smuggling of police guns to criminals. This included an audit of firearms at all police stations in the Western Cape.
Some sources, with intimate knowledge of circumstances surrounding the 33 missing firearms, claimed that senior police officers were covering up what exactly happened to the guns and were trying to keep the suspensions of about 14 officers under wraps as these were their “fall guys.”
- Confiscated firearms (Picture: Supplied)
Many murders have been perpetrated as a result of the underworld turf battle over club security, which is also linked to the illicit tobacco trade, perlemoen smuggling and gangs. More than a dozen murders were carried out in eight months.
These are some of the killings:
December 3, 2017 – A bouncer was stabbed to death at the Cubana in Green Point. During a bail application in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court in January 2018, investigating officer Charl Kinnear testified that the bouncer was stabbed after Nafiz Modack was denied a VIP table in the establishment.
October 14, 2017 – Two people were killed in a shooting in Stellenbosch nightclub Cubana.
Gunmen had stormed the establishment. Nicole Muller, 30, a patron who was in the club and a mother of two young boys, as well as Donovan Jacobs, 40, were fatally wounded. A third person was also wounded and survived.
It is understood the shooting is linked to a battle between rival gangs and that a 28s gang member was the intended target of the incident. Alleged Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome “Donkie” Booysen was wounded in a shooting in Cape Town International Airport on October 18. Sources said this was in retaliation for Jacobs’s murder. A second person was also wounded in the airport shooting.
August 18, 2017 – Brian Wainstein, also known as the “steroid king,” was shot dead in his Constantia home. He was killed while in bed alongside his young child and wife. Neither his child, nor his wife, were wounded. Three cellphones were apparently stolen from the house. Wainstein, who was arrested in Cape Town in 2013 as the US wanted him extradited for illicit steroid activities, was previously convicted in Ireland for selling illegal steroids around the world. He apparently took orders via email.
June 28, 2017 – Two men, including the second-in-command to a 27s gang leader, were killed outside a shopping centre in Pinelands, Cape Town. Two balaclava-clad gunmen were involved in the shooting and fled the scene in a Hyundai.
June 17, 2017 – Three men were shot dead in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town. Sources with close knowledge of what happened said the shooter or shooters had intended targeting those working for an alleged 28s gang boss. This gang boss, according to sources, had angered another head gangster. It is understood this was due to an argument over drug turf.
May 8, 2017 – Deon Williams, said to be linked to the 26s gang and better known as Igor, was shot dead in Ravensmead. Jerome “Donkie” Booysen was wounded while on his way to see Williams.
April 30, 2017 – Alleged gang boss Mayon McKenna, 40, and another man, aged 23, were gunned down in Ravensmead outside his house. Several sources, with links to police, said McKenna was allegedly involved in the drug trade, as well as the underworld, as he channelled drugs and offered protection to some key figures. He was said to be a member of the 26s gang.
April 3, 2017 – Eldridge Lucas, 60, a security guard, was shot dead in Hanover Park when the cigarette delivery van he was in was hijacked.
April 1, 2017 – Shamiel Eyssen, 45, a leader of the Fancy Boys gang and one of the first gangsters in Cape Town to be convicted under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) was shot dead in Bishop Lavis. He was apparently owed money in a major cigarette deal and was killed so that this payment would not have to be made.
January 26, 2017 – A man was murdered in perlemoen poaching hotspot Gansbaai, in a crime said to be linked to the killing of Russel Jacobs.
January 20, 2017 – Suspected perlemoen kingpin and minstrel boss Russel Jacobs, 38, was gunned down in Blue Downs. Sources have told News24 that before his murder, Jacobs travelled to China as he hoped to branch out and start his own perlemoen-smuggling channel. They say this infuriated those who worked with him in the initial smuggling syndicate, as they did not want any businesses diverted away from them. Sources say Jacobs was killed in a setup when he returned to Cape Town, and the smuggling channel he was creating was snuffed out.
November 8, 2016 – Craig Mathieson, the night manager of Hotel 303, in Sea Point, Cape Town was shot dead in an apparent hit. Controversial businessman Mark Lifman owns the hotel.
November 7, 2016 – Well-known Western Cape attorney, Noorudien Hassan, 45, was shot several times while in a car outside his home in Lansdowne. He was linked to some of the province’s most high-profile gang cases. Hassan had been involved in representing members of Cape Town’s bouncer industry, as well as a suspect in what is said to be South Africa’s biggest ever gun smuggling investigation.
Mysterious Meetings, Spook Allegations and Threats
At least two high-ranking police officers have held meetings with controversial businessman Nafiz Modack who is apparently heading up a faction taking over nightclub security.
Several sources with close knowledge of underworld activities have told News24 that Modack is an informant. He has denied this.
On the night of May 4, 2017, News24 witnessed Modack and Northern Cape provincial police commissioner Risimati Shivuri sitting together and talking in an upmarket hotel near the V&A Waterfront.
It is not clear what they were discussing.
When News24 reporter Caryn Dolley asked Modack, via email, about the meeting which she had witnessed, he initially replied: “I don’t think I need to explain to anY ONE who I meet or why! I meet lotsa people all the time would you like to no WHO THEY ARE ASWELL [sic].”
He then sent an email headed “WE HAVE EYES EVERY WHR [sic].”
A photograph of Dolley at the hotel while Modack met Shivuri there was attached.
The body of the email said: “WE HAVE EYES EVERY WHR HAVE A GREAT DAY FURTHER [sic].”
Asked via email if this was a threat or an attempt to intimidate the journalist and why he would react in this manner, Modack denied this.
He replied via email: “NOT AT ALL , JUST LETTING U NO WHO MY GUYS PICKED UP WHO WAS WATCHING ME AS I HAVE PEOPLE ALL AROUND , I DNT EVEN NO WHOS IN THE PIC
NO ONE HAVE A REASON TO THREATEN YOU AN I WOLUDNT ALLOW ANY PNE TO DO THAT HAVE A GREAT DAY [sic].”
Asked about Shivuri’s meeting with Modack, Major-General Sally de Beer, on behalf of the police, said: “The placement of the Provincial Commissioner: Northern Cape under unlawful surveillance by those with ulterior motives is strongly condemned.”
The response said the police would not be commenting on Shivuri’s “movements and meetings” through the media.
In mid-October 2017 Modack was also photographed with President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane in a Cape Town hotel. A month earlier Modack had told News24 he “looked after” Duduzane when he was in Cape Town.
Duduzane did not reply to questions from News24.
Well-placed sources with intimate knowledge of the situation have also claimed that Western Cape detective head Major-General Patrick Mbotho has met with Modack at least twice over matters relating to a vehicle and firearms.
Mbotho denied this, saying Modack approached him about a complaint against the police.
They had met in his office once.
On August 4. 2017, Dolley received another threat via SMS.
This threat related to articles she had written on a national gun smuggling investigation, which included looking into how police officers smuggled firearms to gangsters, as well as the origin of underworld guns.
The threat said guns smuggled from police to gangsters would be used on her head.
Dolley lodged a criminal complaint with police.
Several sources with links to policing and the underworld believe the shift in the club security industry has been orchestrated by police, informants and state security agents trying to take down key underworld players.
State Security Agency spokesperson Brian Dube denied this in April 2017.
“The allegations made about our involvement in the ‘shake up’ of the industry are baseless and are devoid of any truth,” he told News24.
But rumours of police, Hawks and Crime Intelligence officers’ involvement in the underworld shift have persisted.
In a civil trial which started in the Western Cape High Court early in 2017, it emerged that former president Nelson Mandela had in fact in the late nineties tasked select police officers with infiltrating the underworld.
In 1996 Mandela appointed Lincoln to head up the Presidential Investigative Task Unit (Pitu), an elite team which probed organised crime and links to police and politicians.
However, Lincoln went on to be arrested, an act he believes was carried out to snuff out investigations into high-ranking officials.
A court document in the matter detailed how Mandela’s elite investigative unit was tasked with infiltrating the underworld.
It said: “The mandate of Pitu was named Operation Intrigue, a secret operation functioning in a covert manner gathering secretive or confidential information on its main targets through surveillance and infiltration of the criminal underworld operating around the nightlife of Cape Town, most of whom were connected to police officers operating on the ground.”
Until several bail applications of underworld figures started playing out in late 2017 and early 2018, authorities had not publicly commented much about ructions within the underworld and violence unfolding as a result.
However, the actions of police and that of a task team headed by the Hawks, and which have become public knowledge, shows that they appear to be taking the matter extremely seriously.
February 7, 2018 – Controversial businessman Mark Lifman was arrested and detained at Cape Town International Airport. He faced a charge of pointing a firearm. Lifman’s attorney William Booth said his client was arrested illegally as police had not warrant to take him into custody.
However, two days after his arrest he was released from police custody after it emerged he would not be charged.
December 15, 2017 – Nafiz Modack and six others were arrested in a major crackdown by the Cape Town cluster of police.
Aside from Modack, others arrested were: Colin Booysen – who is the brother of suspected Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen – Jacques Cronje, James de Jager, Ashley Fields, Mathys Visser and Carl Lakay.
The seven appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on December 18. Several police officers were stationed in the courtroom when they were in the dock. A man, linked to police, used his cellphone to take photographs of some of those present in the public gallery. It is understood the arrests relate to a letter distributed among club owners around Cape Town. In it the owners of establishments said they would be charged double. It is understood this was for security services.
December 7, 2017 – Mathys Visser, the head of a security company as well as a bodyguard to controversial businessman Nafiz Modack, handed himself over to the Hawks following a raid at the business’s premises the day before. A firearm, ammunition and documents were seized during the raid. Visser owned Eagle VIP Security.
The company address of Eagle VIP was listed as a property in Plattekloof – an address which News24 previously established is a home belonging to Modack.
In a related case in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, a police investigator testified that Eagle VIP was meant to have stopped operating from March 2017 due to the non-payment of annual fees.
The investigator last week also testified that in July the name of Eagle VIP Security was changed to VIP24 Protection and its directorship changed. This company, the court had heard, may not operate as it was under investigation.
November 28, 2017 – Controversial businessman Nafiz Modack was briefly detained by police in the Cape winelands town of Worcester. He faced charges of robbery and assault relating to an apparent debt collection he tried to proceed with. A businessman apparently owed around R20m. A car was vandalised during the incident. Charges were withdrawn against Modack on December 12.
Armed bodyguards had been present when he had gone to the Worcester Magistrate’s Court, where the charges were withdrawn.
November 25, 2017 – Two brothers were arrested in conne
ction with the murder of international “Steroid King” Brian Wainstein. Wainstein was killed shortly after midnight on August 18 in what appeared to be a targeted hit at his home.
Three days after brothers Matthew and Sheldon Breet were arrested, Hawks investigators discovered explosives, two military radios and a firearm in search operations held in Cape Town’s northern suburbs and linked to the duo.
In October Fabian Cupido, 39, was also arrested in connection with Wainstein’s murder. This was after he was detained following an alleged attempted attack at a Cape Town hospital where alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen was admitted after he was wounded in a shooting at Cape Town International Airport.
November 13, 2017 – Police officers searched a vehicle used by controversial businessman Nafiz Modack, as well as other men, outside the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court following the appearance of Grant Veroni, of the company Skhosana Maponyane Hall Phillips and Khumalo, trading as The Security Group (TSG), who was arrested on November 11. Veroni, who was also arrested in September, faces an illegal possession of a firearm charge in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.
October 27, 2017 – An intense underworld tracing operation led to the arrests of two more suspects for a shooting in Café Caprice in Camps Bay. Two patrons were wounded in this incident which unfolded on April 17. These latest arrests brought to six the total number of suspects detained in connection with this incident.
October 24, 2017 – A fourth suspect appeared in court for a shooting which unfolded at a Camps Bay establishment in April, an incident linked to the underworld nightclub security industry. Two patrons were shot in Café Caprice in this incident.
October 9, 2017 – Hussain Ait Taleb, a martial arts expert better known in bouncer circles as Hussain Moroccan, was arrested in connection with a murder conspiracy charge. Taleb has been involved in nightclub security for decades and at one point worked with now-slain underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka, who ran an infamous bouncer racket in Cape Town.
October 9, 2017 – The Hawks confirmed a third suspect was arrested for a shooting in Café Caprice in Camps Bay in which two patrons were wounded on April 17.
October 5, 2017 – Two suspects were arrested – one for a shooting in Café Caprice in Camps Bay in which two patrons were wounded on April 17. The second was arrested for a shooting which happened just outside Coco Bar in the city centre on May 5. A patron and DJ were wounded in this incident.
October 2, 2017 – Jordan Fabe appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. He was arrested on September 29 in connection with the wounding of two men in Café Caprice in Camps Bay on April 17.
September 29, 2017 – Grant Veroni and Vincent Phillips, who work at the Bellville-based security company Skhosana Maponyane Hall Phillips and Khumalo, trading as The Security Group (TSG), which was twice before the target of police and Hawks operations, were arrested. Veroni and Phillips were arrested on charges, including fraud and others, under the Firearms Control Act.
September 8, 2017 – Police raided controversial businessman and ex-bouncer boss Andre Naude’s Bellville home around 03:30. Items seized, according to a document seen by News24, included a desktop computer, several laptops, and a memory stick. However, Naude, who was not in the country at the time, said no illegal items or substances were found in his home. A search warrant, seen by News24, shows that various crimes, including having illegal firearms and money laundering, were suspected of being committed.
August 31, 2017 – Naeem Harris, 21, of Portlands, Mitchells Plain, was arrested for a shooting which happened just outside Coco nightclub in the Cape Town city on May 5, 2017. A patron and a DJ were wounded in this incident.
August 21, 2017 – A suspect, Matthew Broderick Breet, 27, was arrested for allegedly being in possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition. This after an operation, involving Crime Intelligence and Hawks, was conducted outside a fast food outlet in Sea Point in April.
News24 understands that a group of men had gathered there and were planning to intimidate club owners in the city centre and surrounds. Officers had discovered an abandoned Jeep without registration plates outside the fast food outlet. In the vehicle they discovered items including a shotgun, blue light and bullet proof jacket. Investigations into this matter had led to Breet’s arrest.
July 14, 2017 – Businessman Nafiz Modack, said to be heading up the newer grouping taking over club security, said his home in Plattekloof was burgled by police officers who stole cash and got into a safe and stole “sensitive classified documents” containing the names of police generals. However, police said an operation was conducted there.
July 12, 2017 – A security company, The Security Group, based in Bellville, was for the second time in less than two weeks the centre of an operation conducted by a task team consisting of Hawks officers, police, private security regulators, and liquor, firearms and second hand goods authorities. Firearms were confiscated. This clampdown happened less than three months after News24 reported that The Security Group had made claims on its website that it had strong links to intelligence services, claims which the State Security Agency denied. The Security Group approached the Western Cape High Court to get the guns returned, but were unsuccessful. A Hawks investigator, in court papers, claimed The Security Group made use of the names of registered guards to get firearm licences, but that the guards had never worked for the company.
July 6, 2017 – A multidisciplinary team, consisting of Hawks officers, national intervention unit members, liquor officials and others linked to the regulation of private security, arrested two bouncers at a Bellville venue for non-compliance with private security regulations.
July 4, 2017 – The Security Group was the centre of an operation conducted by a task team including Hawks officers, police, private security regulators, and liquor, firearms and second hand goods authorities. National intervention unit members, according to sources with intimate knowledge of what happened, had monitored the operation to ensure those conducting it were safe. The operation, a compliance inspection, had focused on whether the company was compliant with various regulations. No arrests were made and nothing was confiscated. According to the sources, at least two key underworld figures had arrived during the operation.
June 29, 2017 – Three bouncers were arrested at an establishment in Table View for allegedly not being registered with the necessary private security regulatory body as is required by law.
June 27, 2017 – Two bouncers were arrested during a night raid and Long Street clampdown in the Cape Town city centre. It was conducted by a multidisciplinary task team, including members of the national intervention unit from Gauteng and the Hawks. They are facing charges of not being registered with the necessary private security authority.
May 29, 2017 – Alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen’s home in the southern suburbs was raided. Police used a nyala to break their way into it.
Officers armed with automatic rifles then squeezed passed it to get inside. The officers’ faces were partially covered, with only their eyes and the bridges of their noses showing beneath helmets. All were dressed in what appeared to be combat gear, and one of them carried a shield. Exclusive CCTV footage obtained by News24 shows that the police raid happened at 03:04. Booysen has said he is not sure why his home was targeted. He was intent on pushing ahead with a civil claim against the police. Booysen said officers traumatised his daughters and grandchildren by pointing machine guns at them. “It was me and my daughters. Why did they have to come with machine guns?” he asked when talking to News24.
May 26, 2017 – Armed police officers, from various branches including the special task force and national intervention unit from Johannesburg, clamped down on popular Long Street in the city centre, combing through clubs and effectively blocking off the area, in a crackdown on the intensifying underworld battle for control over the lucrative bouncer industry. Helicopters were also used in the massive operation. Police were authorised to search any person and any premises for firearms and explosives, without search warrants.
The operation had also, according to sources, included public order police officers, units from Stellenbosch and Johannesburg, Hawks officers and border control police officers. News24 has seen a copy of the authorisation for the operation, signed by the Western Cape police commissioner. It allowed for police to cordon off several streets, including Long Street, from that specific Friday evening until the Saturday morning. It also allowed for officers to “without a warrant search persons, premises, vehicles, receptacles or objects of whatsoever nature, in order to seize illegal firearms, ammunition and explosives and any object referred to in section 20 of the Criminal Procedure Act”.
How They Move Around
The newer grouping in the underworld has been seen moving around the Cape Town city centre in a convoy of vehicles.
On the evening of April 21, 2017, News24 witnessed them moving around in taxis and luxury vehicles.
They were seen convened as a group outside a nightclub. One man was dressed in all black and carried a shield. Another could be seen carrying what appeared to be a leg-length firearm.
They walked as a group and when they left the club, filed into vehicles and drove away as a convoy.
A source with links to the group has also said they travel in several taxis or two unmarked vehicles.
This source also said some of their vehicles were bullet proof.
This grouping travels with armed guards.
In September 2017 News24 was sent several images, including one of businessman Nafiz Modack standing alongside what a source said was a bullet proof vehicle.
Modack, as well as four others, were arrested on extortion charges in December 2017.
During Modack’s bail application in January 2018, Charl Kinnear, a police officer investigating underworld activities, testified that Modack and the men working with him had been “driving in convoys like only the president can.”
Modack was reportedly previously linked to an alleged scam involving luxury cars. It is not clear what came of this matter.
In Modack’s bail application, it emerged he may be charged with theft and fraud under false pretenses relating a vehicle purchased from a car dealership.
It was alleged Modack purchased the vehicle, valued at R350 000, without actually paying for it.
The club security matter is understood to be linked to the drug trade, in that some establishments are viewed as crucial turf from which to peddle drugs. Control of security therefore may equal control of the drug trade and increased power. Several drugs busts have been linked to, or have suspected ties with, the underworld battle. However, some attempts from within the underworld to link certain figures to drug busts have so far failed.
This has highlighted an apparent smear campaign of sorts being run within the underworld with the aim of tarnishing the reputations of certain businessman and individuals.
Cocaine stash discovered
On June 18, 2017, Jacques Cronje, who was previously involved in an illegally operating bouncer company, and who has had run-ins with the law before, was arrested in the Cape Town city centre after about 22 packets of cocaine were discovered in the vehicle he was driving.
Cronje is affiliated to the new underworld faction headed by Nafiz Modack. The new faction, according to an informant linked to this grouping, is intent on ridding the city centre of drugs. Six sources, with ties to the underworld and police matters, have told News24 that Cronje may have been set up and that the cocaine could have been planted. Four of the sources have pointed the finger at members of a rival underworld faction who they believe are intent on tripping up Cronje and those associated with him. News24 understands that Cronje had given a lift to another underworld figure, who is from the Ukraine and also involved in the nightclub security industry, before the drugs were found. Sources say this man had been wearing gloves while Cronje transported him and may have been the one to plant the cocaine sachets. The matter has become the subject of a court case.
Cronje was also arrested on December 15, along with Modack and five other suspects. Cronje was charges with extortion in this matter.
He has been involved in club security for years.
Years ago, underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka, who was killed in 2011, ran the company Pro Security along with Cronje. Cronje was also involved in the bouncer company Specialised Protection Services, which was run by, among others, controversial businessmen Andre Naude and Mark Lifman. But it was soon shut down as it was not registered with Psira. Cronje later fell out with his SPS associates as he faced allegations of misappropriating company money, assault, and missing meetings.
‘Biggest ever’ drug bust in SA
Claims of alleged underworld links were also made in one of South Africa’s biggest drug busts to date.
On June 22, police discovered what was initially thought to be cocaine valued at R500m on the Eerste Hoop wine estate in the Overberg town of Villiersdorp.
However, it later emerged the drug discovered was likely heroin with a lesser value. Three suspects were arrested. One, Mark Rodrigues, of Holland, was the only one to be detained and face charges. Three sources said the cocaine haul was discovered on a farm belonging to businessman Mark Lifman. However, Lifman vehemently denied this. He told News24: “If it floats, flies, farms or, I’m sure you can work out what the fourth one is, rent it. And I don’t own or rent any farms, so I’m happy to say, that has nothing to do with me.” It later emerged the wine farm on which the drugs were found belonged to a Belgian businessman. The claims against Lifman have highlighted an apparent underworld smear campaign whereby one grouping is apparently tarnishing the names of certain individuals.
In another major drug bust, R104m worth of heroin was discovered concealed under a vehicle at the Kosi Bay port of entry on June 12, 2017. Three suspects were arrested.
An informant, who goes by the name Mr Wick and has links to the new underworld faction, told News24 he had tipped police off about this major heroin smuggling operation allegedly run by members of an older underworld faction. However, other sources rubbished Mr Wick’s claims, saying he was merely trying to smear the names of others.
‘Corruption’ and Police Tensions
There have been persistent rumours that some police officers, Hawks investigators and crime intelligence operatives have been working for, or with, those running underworld operations.
High-ranking Western Cape policeman Jeremy Vearey, who successfully took on national police managers in the Labour Court for what he believes was his effective demotion, in May 2017 told News24 that police and crime intelligence officers were conspiring with politicians and gangsters in an ongoing attempt to derail critical investigations.
Vearey said he was aware of a particular Crime Intelligence officer who had previously visited attorney Noorudien Hassan, who was linked to some of the province’s most high-profile gang cases, about claims to be concocted against him.
Hassan was murdered outside his home in Lansdowne in November 2016.
News24 understands that allegedly leaked information relating to a massive firearms case was found in the offices of Hassan after he was killed.
He was part of a legal team dealing with the matter involving Rondebosch businessman Irshaad “Hunter” Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves. They are involved in a case linked to the alleged selling of firearms, meant to have been destroyed by police, to gangsters around the Western Cape.
An ex-police colonel, Chris Prinsloo, now serving a jail sentence for his role in the saga, previously said he had sold at least 2 000 firearms to Laher who allegedly paid him to steal guns meant for destruction.
In May 2017 it emerged that a highly sensitive investigation diary and records that could expose details of an informant had apparently been leaked in the case, which also involves 3 028 police dockets linked to stolen guns.
It is understood that the strictly confidential documents were allegedly leaked to the defence team in the matter. News24 understands these documents were discovered in Hassan’s office after his murder. The head of the Western Cape’s Crime Intelligence division, Mzwandile Tiyo, was to have been served with a court order relating to the case to, among other things, see to it that the confidential documents were handed to the State.
Vearey, speaking about a seemingly unrelated matter, had told News24 he and others were monitoring how senior Crime Intelligence officers were plotting against him.
“We are aware of what they are up to. They are amateurs,” he said.
A source claiming to have close ties to Nafiz Modack told News24 that Vearey had links to the older underworld faction.
But Vearey said these claims linking him to the underworld were part of the constant attempts to tarnish his name.
Vearey believed attempts were being made to discredit him to stunt high-level investigations he has been busy with and which were threatening to expose criminality within the police service and among politicians.
“There is definitely something everybody is hiding. We are coming after them systematically,” Vearey said.
“This is a various convergence of various people. This is the politics of organised crime.”
Several aspects of what is happening in the underworld have led to more questions being asked than answers being provided or uncovered.
Here are some of the main lingering questions:
– Are shifts in the underworld part of an intelligence-driven operation aimed at taking down certain individuals? Or is it sheer criminality spilling over into the public domain?
– Who exactly are Nafiz Modack and the UK businessman from Pakistan?
– Why did Nafiz Modack meet Northern Cape police commission Risimati Shivuri in the hotel near the V&A Waterfront on the evening of May 4, 2017?
– Why has false information been intentionally spread? What true information lies beneath this?
– Why exactly is nightclub security apparently at the core of underworld ructions? Who is protecting who and from what?
– Who murdered underworld boss Cyril Beeka?
– Who murdered Yuri “the Russian” Ulianitski?
– Who murdered attorney Noorudien Hassan?
– Why were Cyril Beeka, Yuri “the Russian” Ulianitski and Noorudien Hassan killed?
– What is the status of all the other unsolved murders and shootings?
– Who ordered each shooting?
In Their Own Words
“And I’ve told you before, when it comes to drugs, nothing to do with me” – June 21, 2017
“I don’t condone any drug dealing whatsoever, nor intimidation and definitely not violence. No person in this universe should be afraid of another human being” – June 28, 2017
JEROME “DONKIE” BOOYSEN
“We’re not interested in this gangsterism and stuff” – June 1, 2017
“I’m no gangsterim a buineesman and only fear god no one else [sic]” – March 30, 2017
Rumours. Intentionally planted false information. Anonymous messages. No comment. Watch your back. It’s not worth the risk. These guns will be used on your head.
These are just some of the obstacles and warnings one has to contend with when probing the underworld.
It remains difficult to root out the truth, especially as sources with ties to police and the legal fraternity have at times corroborated information which is yet to be proven as the truth, or which has turned out to be false.
When looking at information and images supplied, on and off the record interviews, and combining this with knowledge gleaned from witnessing certain events firsthand, there are three main theories that emerge:
1. Intelligence operatives have infiltrated major organised crime nodes and are so hellbent on bringing down key figures involved in these that shootings and the wounding of innocent people will not stand in their way. Some authorities are aware of these operatives’ activities. Some are not.
2. A certain group of authorities are working hand-in-hand with a grouping involved in organised crime. This group has such strong connections to people of power, including politicians, that their actions are condoned. This group is smearing the names of others as part of some vendetta. Authorities are in on this.
This would sow division within policing structures as some members would be corrupt. Their colleagues who are not corrupted and trying to root them out, would then be targeted.
3. The underworld is totally powerful and key players are in control, not state powers.
It is understood that several people who have been targeted by those in the underworld have been hesitant to open criminal cases due to safety concerns and for fear of upsetting figures viewed as powerful.
Whatever the truth about the underworld, the fact remains, at least six people have been shot – four inside of and two just outside of – establishments in Cape Town since April 2017. Many other shootings have played out elsewhere in Cape Town and there has been an attempted hit in Johannesburg. People, in some cases innocent, have been murdered and wounded.
In October 2017 a mother of two young boys, who was celebrating a friend’s birthday, was killed in a shooting inside a club in Stellenbosch. A man, who sources say was a 28s gangster and the intended target, was also murdered. A third person was wounded.
Violence, intimidation and threats may temporarily derail focus. But this will not change the truth, no matter how long it takes to unravel.