The strange and sinister world of Lolly Jackson

2012-03-27 00:00

WHEN he died, shot six times, in May 2010, the cars in Lolly Jackson’s garage were conservatively estimated to be worth R96 million and on the surface his Teazers’ business empire seemed to be flourishing ahead of an expected influx of tourists looking for adult entertainment on the fringes of the Soccer World Cup. But his death blew the lid off a shadowy world of tax dodges, money laundering, intimidation and some very frightening people.

A new book about Jackson’s life, death and financial shenanigans has just been published. The authors are Sean Newman, who was Jackson’s media, marketing and public relations manager at Teazers­ and who now runs his own massage business which Jackson had helped him to set up; investigative journalist Karyn Maughan of eNews and Peter Piegl, former editor of Playboy South Africa­ whose role has been to pull Newman’s memories of Jackson and the Teazers­’­ lifestyle and Maughan’s forensic­ investigations together into a readable whole.

The book opens with Jackson’s death but the killings did not end there. His attorney Ian Jordaan and his former partner Mark Andrews have both been murdered, while underworld boss Cyril Beeka was killed two months before Jackson. Beeka had close links to Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir who was also a friend of Jackson’s and is a major player in the story and, say the authors, is happy with the accuracy of the content. Probably wisely, they checked everything with him before publication. All the interviews were recorded, and Quick Response codes are included in the book, so interested readers can scan them to get the full details.

So far, no one has been brought to justice for any of the deaths. The authors agree that this is a huge indictment of South Africa. George Smith, at whose house Jackson’s body was discovered, apparently confessed to the murder to the then head of Crime Intelligence in Gauteng, Khanyisa Joey Mabasa, although Newman doesn’t believe Smith was the killer. Maughan says: “I’m not sure I would buy a full-blown public confession if he made one.” And at the time, there was speculation that Mabasa himself was being investigated by the Hawks. Smith is now living in Cyprus, and was arrested at the weekend, although South Africa has no extradition treaty with the Cypriot government. So he is still effectively out of reach of the police.

The authors feel the Hawks and the police are much more interested in the money laundering than in solving the murders. Perhaps with reason: after all, it was tax-evasion charges that eventually brought Al Capone down. But even so, there have been no successful prosecutions. However, Maughan has dug deep behind the façade of Teazers and uncovered a story of sleaze, financial crime and tax evasion. Surely, the question must be, if Maughan could find this out, and in a relatively short time, why couldn’t the authorities?

“You get a sense they feel those who have been murdered were scumbags who deserved it,” says Newman. “Maybe if they dig too deep, they’ll find things they don’t really want to know.” The authors all feel that SARS, the police and the Hawks should be embarrassed by the book. “SARS is apparently reluctant to take meaningful action against the mega-wealthy, but the public want to see the big boys fall,” says Maughan. “I find it staggering that an individual can be involved in so many overtly questionable things, and the only way anything happens is through his murder. South Africa cannot deal with organised crime.”

She also says that underworld figures have a very good understanding of the justice system, how it operates and how to play it. When cases are brought, there are long delays, questionable witnesses, and no results. “Jackson reached a court settlement in 1999 with SARS. He realised he could drag ADR [Alternative Dispute Resolution] out for ages, refusing to honour settlement agreements. If you can afford it, you can drag these cases out for as long as you want.”

The authors hope the book will turn up the pressure on the Hawks who came along and asked for a copy about a month before publication. During the past two years they have interviewed Newman several times, both as a suspect in Jackson’s death and to try to get more information. Now they say that the authors don’t have the full picture of what they have been doing, although they have admitted there is information in the book that they didn’t know about before. “There are still so many questions,” says Newman. “It’s never going to end. But the idea of the book is that we have a lot of information, and all these questions, and if we put it out there ...”

Besides the questions, the book also looks closely at Jackson the man. Newman is upfront about the fact that he considered Jackson a friend, and points out his kindness, his charitable actions. But still, reading the book, he comes across as a manipulative bully.

“I had to tell the full story,” says Newman. “That’s where Karyn and Peter came in — I wanted people to keep me balanced.”

“When the book came out, the guy who set the landspeed record for blind drivers in a car Lolly lent him asked us why we didn’t emphasise his charity work. He felt Lolly was incredibly kind and generous,” says Piegl. “But we’re not trying to convince people he was a good guy.” The story lives up to its sub- title: “When Fantasy becomes Reality”. Jackson was a self-made, successful businessperson. He only had a Grade 8 education, and he started Teazers as sleaze-free adult entertainment. But he was also a criminal. Maughan says: “He was a fundamentally rebellious man.”

Teazers was a gateway to adult entertainment, and it gave those involved a glamorous lifestyle — fast cars, women and luxury. But when the doors opened, the steps went down into an underworld. Newman describes how there would be huge amounts of cash in bags in the basement. He says it wasn’t for him to ask what was going on.

“Lolly was who he was. I accept the good and the bad, and he was very good to me. You either loved him or hated him. But he died a lonely man.”

 

• Lolly Jackson: When Fantasy Becomes Reality by Sean Newman, Peter Piegl and Karyn Maughan is published by Jacana.

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