Underworld takeover: The Russian links

2017-04-10 14:41
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Cape Town - A change in visa regulations between Russia and South Africa is said to have spurred a massive underworld coup in Cape Town’s nightclub security operations.

Scores of Eastern European men have apparently been brought into the country to bolster the new leaders.

The coup resulted in a new grouping snatching control of nightclub security from an older group which had long dominated the lucrative industry.

In one of the latest incidents, dozens of minibus taxis were intercepted outside a fast food outlet, along the N1 highway in Cape Town, in the early hours of Monday.

The occupants of the vehicles were allegedly armed and on their way to the city centre to try and regain control of clubs.

"Police questioned a group of people outside a fast food outlet at a Goodwood mall during the early hours of Monday morning," police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut told News24.

"No case was registered and no one was arrested."

Police intervened when the same group gathered outside a strip club in the city centre in the early hours of Sunday.

While some sources believe the coup has been long in the making, others suspect it is an elaborate scheme, involving police and intelligence operatives, to trip up some of the country’s most prolific underworld players, who have links to politicians.

Ties to Russia

The takeover was carried out in the early hours of March 31, the day after visa-free travel was introduced between Russia and South Africa.

"Protocol between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of South Africa on the reciprocal repeal of visa requirements for foreign travel passports... will come into force on March 30," the Russian Embassy said in a statement.

"Under the Protocol’s provisions, citizens of Russia and South Africa travelling without the intention of working, studying or living in the other country’s territory, are free from visa requirements and can enter, stay or transit without a visa for a duration of up to 90 days."   

The coup involves the control of the lucrative club security scene being taken over by a new group, apparently led by businessman Nafiz Modack. He was previously linked to an alleged scam involving luxury cars.

Asked on Monday if he had brought a group of Russian men into the country to beef up security, Modack responded by sending a smiley face emoticon via email.

When asked what exactly this meant, he said: "It means they all around in cpt [sic]."

Sources told News24 it was no coincidence that on the same day as the takeover, 25 men from Eastern Europe were preparing to fly to South Africa to back the new powerful grouping.

They were said to be guided by a Ukrainian businessman based in Cape Town, allegedly with close ties to the underworld, who the Hawks are trying to track down.

This Ukrainian businessman was previously arrested for charges relating to intimidation.

An image of what appears to be a section of an online international plane ticket, with his name on it, was sent to News24 in a bid to try and prove he had travelled to fetch the group of men.

It is understood the Hawks are probing the timing of the takeover and the visa regulations being relaxed.

Power

A source with close links to the new grouping currently running club security told News24 that the Eastern European men were brought into Cape Town and Johannesburg to ensure the coup went unopposed.

The source described the group which was brought in as "the muscle" to back up the new underworld group.

Another source with ties to policing said the Eastern European grouping posed a risk to security in the Western Cape.

"Organised crime will mushroom," this source said.

"What the Cape underworld doesn’t understand is that if you bring transnational criminals, they can quickly turn and take control."

Strip club standoffs

The battle for club security domination started more than a week ago at an auction involving two properties belonging to Modack in the northern suburbs. A massive brawl broke out at a second property in Parow on March 30.

Controversial businessmen, including Mark Lifman and Andre Naude, who previously ran nightclub security operation Specialised Protection Services, which covered the majority of nightclub venues in the Western Cape, were present when this happened.

Lifman’s presence had apparently angered Modack.

At the time Modack told News24: "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]."

Later that night, Modack and a group of men went to a popular strip club in the city centre and took over security there - the first of several clubs where they did this.

Police were called, but no arrests were made.

News24 understands that, in the early hours of Sunday, the ousted group returned to the strip club and blocked the street outside with their cars.

"Police members of Cape Town Central ordered drivers early [Sunday] morning in Barrack Street to remove their vehicles from the road after an obstruction was caused," Traut said.

"No case was registered."

Others said to be in control of club security include the brother of an alleged gang boss and a businessman from Pakistan, who sources have claimed is involved in international organised crime.

It is understood the group is taking over club security in Johannesburg and Durban and that members have banned certain individuals from the establishments they have taken over. 

Read more on:    police  |  russia  |  cape town  |  organised crime

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