Murder plot, extortion, disappearing witnesses – underworld probe details revealed

2017-11-30 21:00
A group of men have started going to nightclubs in Cape Town and taking over security operations in a club turf war. (File, Supplied)

A group of men have started going to nightclubs in Cape Town and taking over security operations in a club turf war. (File, Supplied)

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Cape Town – A security company director allegedly contracted two individuals to murder the owner of an upmarket Cape Town club who refused to pay him for protection, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Thursday.

And this dominant security company, which allegedly employs many bouncers who are not registered with the private security regulator, is linked to suspected Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome "Donkie" Booysen, his brother Colin Booysen and controversial businessman Nafiz Modack.

These and other shocking details that emerged in court, including how police discovered flats above a nightclub where underworld figures had gathered, have painted a worrying picture of the nightclub security scene, hinting at the dangers revellers are unknowingly exposed to.

For a detailed breakdown on what has been happening in the underworld, see News24's showcase Underworld Unmasked

Grant Veroni, director of the Bellville-based company Skhosana Maponyane Hall Phillips and Khumalo, trading as The Security Group (TSG), is at the centre of the court case.

He faces two charges relating to the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Veroni's bail application continued in the Cape Town Regional Court on Thursday.

Sergeant Edward Edwardes, who is involved in police investigations of the underworld, testified about alleged crimes involving the nightclub security industry and key figures linked to it.

Under cross-examination by Veroni's legal representative Bruce Hendricks, Edwardes could not pin these crimes directly on Veroni.

But Edwardes said TSG had played a role in the chaos currently gripping the nightclub security industry.

He said several events playing out in the Western Cape, involving firearms, nightclub security and drugs, were all interlinked.

"It's like tentacles going everywhere," Edwardes said.

Factions, drugs and violence

He said two factions were fighting to dominate nightclub security in the Western Cape.

One faction, a new group, included Modack and Colin Booysen.

The second faction, Edwardes said, included Jerome Booysen, as well as controversial businessman Mark Lifman and Andre Naude.

READ: Violent brawl as underworld 'coup' is carried out in Cape Town

"The new group wants to take over all the clubs. Essentially, if they have control over the door, over the bouncers, then they have control over the drugs.

"That's how they make their money."
 
Edwardes testified that he had video footage of an incident in a popular Cape Town city centre street.

WATCH: How Cape Town’s violent underworld takeover is escalating

He said about 20 to 25 of Modack's "enforcers" blocked the road with their cars, then made their way to a club.

"It looks like a stampede. They pull the guy out the club and beat him senseless," Edwardes testified.

He said that some security industry players were forcing club owners to pay them and pushing their security services on establishments.

He said the owners were afraid to lodge complaints.

'Witnesses disappear'

Edwardes testified that he believed that if Veroni was granted bail, witnesses in the case would want nothing to do with it and would "disappear or get badly hurt".

"In other cases relating to the underworld, witnesses disappear," he said.

Edwardes said TSG was registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira).

Aside from Veroni, Edwardes said two others were directors of the company – Hussain Ait Taleb and Natasha Norman.

Edwardes said Norman was the daughter of a woman named Wendy who was the Booysens' sister.

Club owner's murder planned

Taleb, a martial arts expert better known in bouncer circles as Hussain Moroccan, was arrested in October on a conspiracy to commit murder charge.

"(He) contracted two individuals of Kensington to murder a club owner who has a club in the Cape Town CBD, an upmarket club, due to the fact he refused to pay protection money," Edwardes testified.

Taleb was in custody and is expected to apply for bail in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in December.

Extortion

Edwardes testified that Taleb collected "protection money" from club owners.

He said police had previously spotted two armed men with Colin Booysen sitting at an establishment in Maidens Cove.

A woman, apparently the establishment's operations manager, had told police that a TSG employee had said the company would provide security for a December 16 event there and that those running the establishment would pay TSG R200 000.

Edwardes said a police captain had explained to the woman that a TSG employee was "extorting" money out of people.

The two charges Veroni faces relate to a firearm he was found with.

Edwardes said the firearm was registered to the company Eagle VIP Security. However, in March this year the company was no longer allowed to operate due to the non-payment of annual fees.

The firearm licence was therefore nullified when the company was shut down.

In July this year the name of Eagle VIP Security was changed to VIP24 Protection and its directorship changed. This company may not operate as it is under investigation.

Bodyguards

Edwardes said Eagle VIP Security had been owned by Mathys Visser, who was Modack's personal bodyguard.

Veroni was arrested on November 11.

Edwardes testified that at the time, Veroni had been Colin Booysen's bodyguard.

He described Colin Booysen as "a key figure in the underworld".

On the evening of Veroni's arrest, Edwardes said police officers had been patrolling in Long Street – a popular party strip in the Cape Town city centre.

At one point a police captain spotted a group of "very bulky" men, who Edwardes said looked like they had bullet proof vests on, walking into the nightclub Iconic Lounge.

A member of the public then walked up to the police captain and told him he was worried as some of the men had firearms.

The police officers went inside Iconic Lounge, but could not find the group of men.

Flats discovered above club

They noticed that next to a woman collecting entrance fees was a door with a lock and fingerprint access control.

Edwardes testified that a constable managed to open the door.

"They went up a flight of stairs and to their surprise there are five or six flats at the top of Iconic Lounge," he said.

The second-last door on the right was open and inside was the group of men.

Edwardes said the police captain recognised Colin Booysen.

Veroni was also there and the captain asked if any of them had firearms. Veroni said he did, bringing the firearm for which he has been charged to the police's attention.

Veroni also faces a fraud charge in a separate case set to be heard in Bellville.

Edwardes testified that in that matter, Veroni and a second person charged in the case had recruited security guards, applied for firearm licences for the guards, but had never actually employed them.

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

He said it was a known fact that most clubs and restaurants in the Cape Town city centre, in popular streets including Long, Loop and Bree, made use of TSG's security guards.

These streets, Edwardes said, were "highly populated by innocent people", including tourists.

'Big, intimidating bouncers'

He said most of TSG's security guards were not registered with Psira.

"They are foreign nationals that are heavily built with big muscles and they are very intimidating."

Edwardes went on to detail their alleged actions.

"The security guards of TSG are using brute force to dominate the club scene and intimidate people," he said.

Under cross-examination, Edwardes said there were a number of complaints about TSG, but did not want to elaborate on these.

"If I divulge (this) now I'm going to create havoc," he said.

Edwardes acknowledged that as a security service provider, there was nothing wrong with Veroni providing security to Colin Booysen and Modack.

He said he had testified about these individuals to try and create an overall picture of what was happening in the club security industry.

Veroni's bail application resumes on Friday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  underworld  |  crime

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