The strange case of a businessman, a Land Bank deal and an advocate's buttocks

2013-04-21 10:00

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A  businessman, a questionable Land Bank deal and a jab in an advocate’s buttocks.

The bizarre needle-jab tale of top advocate Jaap Cilliers outside the North Gauteng High Court last month took another twist this week. Frikkie Lutzkie, a former cage fighter and coal baron, told City Press he questions whether the attack took place at all.

Cilliers allegedly had a needle jabbed into his buttocks outside court in March after appearing for three Gauteng businessmen against Lutzkie.

At the centre of the dispute is a multimillion-rand property development, Mount Richmore in Salt Rock on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

Cilliers’ clients – At Shepherd, Ken Stricker and Dave Smith – have been involved in an acrimonious legal battle with Lutzkie for the past five years over the development. The three allege Lutzkie swindled them out of the estate at an auction, while Lutzkie claims they defrauded him from the start when he came on board as majority investor.

Cilliers, who previously defended former top cop Jackie Selebi and “Dr Death” Wouter Basson, told reporters at the time he felt a sharp pain in his buttocks and, a few steps further on, started feeling dizzy and nauseous.

This week, Lutzkie claimed Cilliers used the needle incident as a ruse to prevent his three clients from testifying in a bitter feud over the property deal.

“It is a delaying tactic from Cilliers,” said Lutzkie. “He knows the case will collapse if he puts his clients on the stand.”

Lutzkie believes he has been unfairly demonised as an underground tycoon who goes around strong-arming people in order to get his way. But Cilliers laughed off Lutzkie’s claims.

“I don’t want to comment on the case, but I’ve laid a complaint at the police and the investigation is at an advanced stage,” he said.
City Press understands the investigation had subpoenaed the CCTV cameras at the court. The Cilliers camp claims a suspect has been identified.

There are numerous differences in the two versions of Lutzkie’s involvement in the property development. Lutzkie says Smith and his associates duped him into investing millions by using fake Land Bank letters. But Smith, Shepherd and Stricker felt Lutzkie was sabotaging the development. They brought an application to auction off the development to recover their losses and get rid of him.

But at the auction, Lutzkie picked up Mount Richmore for a song – R50 million. At the time, the property was valued conservatively at R250?million.

Lutzkie has now faced Shepherd, Stricker and Smith in no fewer than seven lawsuits in Durban and Pretoria.
The current case in the North Gauteng High Court was brought by Smith against Lutzkie to set aside the results of the auction.

The feud has escalated into an all-out war.

In July 2010, the three businessmen’s homes in Johannesburg were raided by armed police officers from the Mpumalanga town of Middleburg, who arrested them and took them there. The three believe Lutzkie orchestrated the raids, which they described as unnecessarily heavy-handed and unlawful. The case is still pending and the businessmen are out on bail.

Two days after the three were released on bail, Lutzkie himself was almost gunned down in front of a restaurant in Middelburg. He managed to escape the incident unscathed and shot back at his attackers.

He told City Press this week he believed the three businessmen were behind the attack. But Stricker, Shepherd and Smith believe he “orchestrated” it himself.

Cilliers’ jab was just another bizarre chapter in this tale. Cilliers and his colleague Yolande de Klerk left the court building with three clients at his side when he was allegedly jabbed in the backside by “a young white man in a baseball cap”. Lutzkie said De Klerk ran back into the court, sprinted up to his counsel and accused him of orchestrating the attack.

Advocate De Klerk couldn’t be reached for comment this week.

Lutzkie says Cilliers’ story doesn’t make sense. “If you fear for your life, why would you drive past three hospitals?”

Lutzkie’s advocate, Mac van der Merwe, eventually found Cilliers at Loftus Versfeld rugby field and made a U-turn to take him to the Sunnyside Medi-Clinic. It is still unclear whether any foreign substance was found in Cilliers’ blood. The advocate does not want to comment while the investigation is ongoing.

Shepherd dismissed Lutzkie’s claim as ridiculous.

“This is a man who is desperate for a win. His case was collapsing around him in court. Why would we want to jeopardise our own strong case by sabotaging our lawyer?”

Who is Frikkie Lutzkie?

Middelburg coal tycoon Frikkie Lutzkie hails from Utrecht, KwaZulu-Natal, where he grew up poor before being offered a scholarship.

But he didn’t finish his studies. Instead, he joined the special forces of the apartheid-era defence force.

After serving in the army, he again tried his hand at studying and completed an engineering degree. He joined Anglo American and began sculpting a career in mining. He acquired several mines that he lists as his ticket to riches after selling them to the Royal Bafokeng. He also has several other businesses in Middelburg, including brick factory Federale Stene.

Lutzkie gained notoriety for organising a strip show for his 16-year-old son’s birthday party, which angered the locals in Middelburg, and also for befriending West Rand gangster Ralph Haynes, who later disappeared on his watch.

Lutzkie was extensively questioned about the disappearance after his Ford Bantam bakkie, which he lent to Haynes, was found abandoned near Bronkhorstspruit.

Lutzkie, a former boxer and cage fighter  is desperately trying to clean up his image. He appointed a top reputation-management firm to help him with this.

Lutzkie says he now advises King Goodwill Zwelithini. He claims to have lost most of his money on the Mount Richmore property development and has “nothing left”.

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