Strip club owner may rue boast
Johannesburg - Judgement on the bail application of a Russian strip club owner accused of extortion, intimidation and theft will be handed down in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Friday.
Igor Russol, 40, who claims to own Cape Town club Bedazzled, launched the application on Thursday.
He faces charges of blackmail involving R730 000, intimidation and the theft of R250 000.
Investigating officer Captain Kenneth Speed gave a lengthy testimonial about Russol's background. He handed the court a news article, in which Russol boasted to Cape Times journalist Caryn Dollie about his connections with the criminal underworld.
Prosecutor Aradhana Heeramun told Magistrate Jasthree Steyn: "It is not as if the reporter merely reported proceedings in court, Russol in fact granted her an interview".
Russol's intention might have been to make a name for himself, but the report "has come back to bite him".
The article was not handed to the court to sensationalise the case, as suggested by the defence, but to illustrate the type of person Russol was.
She said the charges against Russol "go to the very core of the criminal underworld operations in Cape Town".
Speed gave a number of reasons why Russol's bail application should be refused, including that his release would send "the wrong message" to the community.
He had deliberately refrained from identifying the complainants in the extortion charge, as they feared for their safety. Russol threatened to close one complainant's business down unless they paid him a ransom of R250 000, Speed said.
Heeramun said the extortion had taken place over a period of time, which categorised the matter as a schedule five bail application.
As such, according to the Criminal Procedure Act, the onus was on Russol to satisfy the court there were compelling and substantial circumstances that his release on bail would be in the interests of justice.
Advocate Peter Mihalik, for Russol, said the State's opposition to bail was based on the news article, "which is not even evidence".
He was adamant the application was categorised under schedule one, and not five, and said Russol was willing to abide by any bail conditions imposed by the court.