The parallel reshuffle rattling SA’s underworld

2017-04-06 08:39
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In the 24 hours leading up to President Jacob Zuma officially announcing his controversial Cabinet reshuffle, major ructions were playing out and reshaping a powerful pseudo-government - South Africa’s underworld.

By the time Zuma swore in his newly-appointed ministers last Friday evening, the landscape of illicit operations, in the Western Cape particularly, had changed and a new leadership had emerged.

The two ‘reshuffles’ are probably unconnected, but the similarities are uncanny.

While roughly 24 hours apart, both happened around midnight under the cover of darkness.

Both caused a flurry of intense reaction.

And both saw a set of leaders emerge from almost coup-like operations.

While South Africans woke up to a drastically different political arena after a night of tense guesswork around what Zuma would do, the underworld ructions remained largely hidden from the public eye.

To those involved though, the repercussions have been massive.

The so-called underworld has been turned upside down.

Some believe this has been an inevitable outcome which has been long in the making.

But others suspect the tectonic shift is an elaborate scheme, involving police and intelligence operatives, to trip up some of the country’s most prolific underworld players, who happen to have links to politicians.

It appears no arrests have been made relating to the underworld reshuffle, which has seen security at several clubs in Cape Town being effectively hijacked, further fuelling suspicions that it’s all an intelligence operation.

Whichever the case, the power balance has shifted.

Several sources, key figures and those involved have told News24 power was quickly snatched from longstanding leaders and grabbed by a new grouping.

Some have claimed this new grouping is backed by state officials.

To understand the major underworld shift, one needs to look at key players and industries linked to it.

In Cape Town and Johannesburg, the control of the notorious nightclub security scene has for years been a major issue.

Rival groups have vied for its control.

With clubs comes control of turf in some of the most popular and tourist-heavy areas.

Controversial businessmen, including Mark Lifman and Andre Naude, previously ran a nightclub security operation, Specialised Protection Services, which covered the majority of establishments in the Western Cape.

But it was shut down as it was not registered as required by law.After that Naude’s name was still linked to club security.

Last week though, another name cropped up in the club security arena - that of Nafiz Modack.

Modack, a businessman, was previously linked to an alleged scam involving luxury cars.

In roughly six days Modack has apparently, along with the brother of an alleged gang boss and a businessman from Pakistan who sources have claimed is involved in international organised crime, taken control of security at scores of Cape Town clubs.

This group, which has ousted an older underworld faction, is said to now have its sights on Johannesburg.

The alleged gang boss and his brother have become rivals - the alleged gang head is part of the older faction, while his brother has joined the new faction.

However, sources are dubious about this and rightly so. As they point out, allegiances can all too easily change. At the end of the day, it’s all about money. And those in the underworld will likely gravitate to where cash flows fastest.

The apparent underworld takeover has been marked by images of bulletproof luxury vehicles (sent to News24), as well as of the three new ringleaders, who apparently want to be known as the “ruthless lions”, in various Cape Town clubs they have taken over.

The words “unstoppable force” have been used by those linked to the new faction.

On the Zuma front, his critics say he bulldozed over those around him and went ahead with the Cabinet reshuffle to protect his interests and those of his allies.

They say he has hijacked Treasury, which is effectively South Africa’s wallet.

Those keeping a close eye on the increasingly murky underworld say the takeover, even if orchestrated by authorities, is about ousting those who for years have been powerful.

It’s about domination. And of course, money.

Current politics and happenings in the underworld have entered an eerie domain.It’s as if the two are moving in tandem.

Themes are common - people in positions of power, allegiances, money.

If the current political and underworld arenas are condensed into an alternate game of rock-paper-scissors, comprising power-money-prestige, there are clear winners.

Money and power.

And then apply the proverb “blood is thicker than water” to both politics and the underworld and the true winner is distilled because it can buy both.

Money.

- Caryn Dolley is deputy news editor of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

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