EXCLUSIVE: 'Fake' employees used to get guns - inside the underworld nightclub violence investigation

2017-08-03 06:14
Confiscated guns. (Supplied)

Confiscated guns. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – A security company allegedly used a list of registered guards it never employed to get several shotguns, which now form part of a high-level investigation into nightclub violence and shootings.

No proper records were kept of these guns and they may have been handed to people not licensed to use them.

A task team, set up by the Hawks to tackle serious threats in the Western Cape, is investigating underworld violence in nightclubs.

This investigation includes the firearms – six shotguns and two handguns – which were allegedly fraudulently obtained. These guns may be sent for ballistic testing to see if they were used in recent shootings.

Some details of the probe into underworld activities are contained in affidavits, while others emerged in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday. 

On July 12, police seized the six shotguns, and ammunition, from a Bellville security company, Skhosana Maponyane Hall Phillips and Khumalo, trading as The Security Group (TSG).

In an effort to get the weapons back, TSG approached the High Court for an urgent order forcing the police to return the firearms. The application was unsuccessful. 

It has previously been involved in a similar court application to get back guns seized outside a city centre strip club on April 21. This application succeeded and the weapons were returned.

In April, News24 reported that TSG claimed online that its members work with police and intelligence officers. The State Security Agency distanced itself from the company.

‘Bouncer battle’

TSG has links to the controversial bouncer industry, which is at the core of a battle between two underworld groupings.

Businessman Nafiz Modack is said to be heading a new underworld faction, which is effectively hijacking the control of nightclub security from an older, more established grouping.

This has resulted in clashes and shootings. At least three people have been shot in Cape Town establishments since April.

TSG challenged the police minister, provincial police commissioner and a police unit focusing on firearms to try and get the firearms back.

Two investigations

Ranjan Jaga, SC, and Stacey Hendricks, representing the police in the High Court on Tuesday, argued that TSG's firearms should not be returned. Jaga said the confiscated firearms formed part of two linked investigations.

"This is a co-ordinated investigation where two police departments are working together and are investigating the nightclub industry," he said.

Jaga said the Hawks were investigating TSG head Grant Veroni for fraud. He said Veroni was being disingenuous when he claimed he had no idea what the fraud matter was about.

He said Veroni’s photograph was attached to the firearms licence application, and his signature and fingerprint were appended to it.

Security guard 'fraud'

Hawks investigator Mike Barkhuizen said in an affidavit that Veroni applied for 10 firearm licences at the Bellville police station. This application, which News24 has seen, is dated July 2014.

Barkhuizen said as motivation, Veroni attached a list of security guards allegedly employed by TSG.

"Investigation has since proved that the list of security guards was fraudulent," he said.

"It is suspected that TSG placed an advertisement on the internet offering employment to registered security guards and obtained CVs in this manner. The particulars of these guards were then fraudulently used."

Barkhuizen said six of the guards were traced and provided affidavits.

According to another court document, their identities were redacted from his affidavit due to the "volatile and sensitive nature" of the nightclub industry investigation.

Nightclub violence probe

In another affidavit, Colonel Jacques van Lill, provincial commander of the police's firearm, liquor and second-hand (Flash) goods control unit, explains how the investigation came about.

Around June 29, the Hawks approached the unit and asked that it help in investigating TSG.

"The (Hawks) usually undertakes investigations by means of an integrated approach by co-ordinating multi-disciplinary agencies to address serious threats in the province," Van Lill says in his affidavit.

"The request, we were advised, came about as a result of the fact that the (Hawks) had convened a task team to investigate the incidents of shootings and other violent acts at various nightclubs in Cape Town."

Following this investigation, the Hawks had asked the Flash unit and the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority to investigate TSG's compliance with the Firearms Control Act.

Firearm act contraventions

According to the police’s heads of argument, it was "of utmost concern" that Veroni admitted that up until July 14, he was not the only person who issued a firearm to an employee.

It said no control was exercised when issuing firearms to security officers and an effective record of where firearms were was not kept. This was in contravention of the Firearms Control Act.

Dirk Uijs, SC, representing TSG and Veroni, said Veroni was licensed to have firearms, but had just not kept proper records. 

RELATED VIDEO: Watch as gun is fired outside club 

Read more on:    cape town  |  gangs  |  gang violence  |  underworld  |  crime

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