Cape Town - Controversial businessman Nafiz Modack says the private security industry in SA has become so cut-throat and murky that making deep inroads into it has resulted in him receiving about 50 threats just this year.
And while he has vehemently denied he is an intelligence operative, as several highly placed sources insist he is, he has confirmed that he was the intended target of a shooting that happened inside Camps Bay establishment Café Caprice on April 17.
Two patrons were wounded in that incident.
"That particular day, we were supposed to have a meeting there. At the last minute, I cancelled," Modack said.
He spoke to News24 in an exclusive interview on Thursday, in which he made startling claims about the country's private security industry, at an establishment just outside the city centre.
At least three armed bodyguards, including bouncer Jacques Cronje, who faces cocaine possession charges in Cape Town, sat near Modack during the interview.
Several more were stationed outside and around the venue. Apparently, there were a total of 20 armed men.
Modack said that, for roughly two years, he had always travelled with about 20 bodyguards.
About two years ago, he said there was an apparent attempted hit on him, where a vehicle he was meant to be in was shot at in Johannesburg.
'My life is in danger'
He said he was also working with about 30 private investigators to, among other things, ensure his safety.
"We're in the security business. Obviously, my life is in danger, because other people want to be doing what we're doing, taking the clubs…
"I've had over 50 threats [this year]. I delete it sometimes," he said, pointing to three cellphones.
The 37-year-old Modack has been taking over nightclub security from a more established grouping.
For a detailed breakdown on what has been happening in the underworld, see News24's showcase Underworld Unmasked here.
This has resulted in violence around Cape Town, from March this year in particular, and more recently in Johannesburg, where on Wednesday night a bouncer boss was wounded in a shooting in Springs.
Club security is said to equal power and muscle in the underworld and is also said to be linked to the drug trade, in that some venues are viewed as crucial turf from which to peddle drugs.
Modack has insisted his grouping is against crime and drugs, but so have members of the more established grouping.
He denied any involvement in gangsterism and underworld shootings.
Violence relating to the clubs takeover has unfolded in Cape Town and Johannesburg, either when, or just after, he has been in these areas.
Modack put this down to "coincidence".
In 2012, Specialised Protection Services, a bouncer company run by, among others, controversial businessmen Andre Naude and Mark Lifman, as well as alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome Booysen, provided security to several nightclubs in Cape Town.
However, it was shut down as it was not registered with the necessary private security regulator, as required by law.
On Thursday, Modack said that - together with a businessman originally from Pakistan and Colin Booysen, the brother of Jerome Booysen - he now provided security to more than 95% of nightclubs around Cape Town.
Ironically, the interview with Modack on Thursday was conducted at the very venue, and very same table, at which this journalist interviewed Naude in January 2012.
That interview nearly mirrored Modack's in that Naude had said that together with Lifman and Jerome Booysen - they had taken over the majority of security at nightclubs in Cape Town.
On Thursday, Modack pointed out that the interview was taking place at the same spot where underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka - who was murdered on March 21, 2011, just outside Belhar, and who he had been close to - had used to sit.
Beeka, who for years ran a dominant bouncer racket in Cape Town, had been rumoured to work for state intelligence.
Asked if the latest club security takeover had been orchestrated by intelligence operatives, or if he was working for the state, Modack insisted this was not the case.
He denied buying information from crime intelligence officers, or selling information, which News24 established may be the case.
However, Modack would not comment on how he had got hold of "classified documents" about police generals, which he said police had illegally removed from his Plattekloof home in July.
He said he and his business associates were "helping" police to keep clubs crime and drug-free.
"Basically we're helping the government do their work."
Debt collection, politicians and guarding cash
Modack explained that, aside from nightclub security, he was involved in a private security company in Cape Town, three in Gauteng, as well as in debt collection for "reputable companies", armed response, cash-in-transit security, and asset management.
He said he worked with several wealthy international clients, "foreigners and big investors", and provided security to "people right from the top, down".
Modack did not rule out working for politicians.
"You get a lot of government officials in business," was all he was prepared to say about this.
However, Modack later repeatedly named a top politician's son as someone he had "looked after" when this man had been in Cape Town.
He claimed that some rival underworld figures were in cahoots with the police and other private security providers, and were monitoring his movements.
Modack backed this up by showing News24 apparent evidence of how his movements were being tracked.
He said private security was poorly regulated and had a poor framework.
"We are straight business people. Our lives are at risk because we took security."
Asked if he was under investigation for any crimes, Modack replied: "Maybe, maybe not."
He said he was anti-drugs and involved in the security business simply to "clean up" clubs around SA.
The club security takeover is said to be linked to the illicit tobacco and perlemoen trade.
Modack said he was in no way involved in either. Referring to the tobacco trade, he added: "I buy my cigarettes at a shop. R55 a pack."
Modack confirmed that:
• He was involved in the Cape Town security company The Security Group (TSG) and that, when firearms from the company were first seized by police outside a city centre strip club in April, these had been taken from men who were "protecting" him.
Modack said he had been at the strip club to take over their security, but not in a violent manner. In July, firearms from TSG were again confiscated by the Hawks. Modack said TSG, which outsourced some work, was providing security to clubs.
Modack was hesitant to speak about:
- His meeting with Northern Cape police commissioner Risimati Shivuri in an upmarket hotel near the V&A Waterfront on May 4, which News24 had witnessed. Asked about this, he replied: "No comment." Then, asked if they had met only once, as News24 had evidence to suggest they had met more than once, he said: "I can't remember."
- A meeting he had with the Western Cape head of detectives Patrick Mbotho, which Mbotho previously said was about a complaint Modack had about the police. On Thursday Modack said: "No comment."
- His closeness to Czech convict Radovan Krejcir. "I met him many times through Cyril [Beeka]," Modack said, without going into more detail.
Build up to threats
Modack, who grew up in Cape Town gang hot spot Bonteheuwel, and dreamed of becoming a doctor "so injured people can be repaired", told News24 that, before Beeka was assassinated in 2011, he (Modack) had been involved in the supermarket business.
His family was among the first Indian and coloured ones to have supermarkets in areas, including Hanover Park and Athlone.
They also ran petrol stations, car showrooms and dealt in properties.
But on the day that Beeka was murdered, everything changed for Modack, then 30 years old.
That day, he said, he started receiving death threats via SMS and telephone calls.
"When Cyril was assassinated, I got a message, saying: 'You next'."
Modack said he then started working in the security environment, much like Beeka had.
"He was a man running town alone," he said, describing Beeka and the bouncer operation he had run in Cape Town.
Modack claimed he started taking over nightclub security in Cape Town and Johannesburg recently in order to snuff out the drug trade in venues.
Asked how he described himself, Modack first dryly joked: "If I tell you, you're going to run out the door."
He then referred to himself as a "security advisor".
"I'm a normal ordinary law abiding citizen," Modack insisted.
During the roughly two hour interview, a seemingly calm Modack drank a cup of coffee, with five sachets of sugar, as well as two energy drinks, and smoked five cigarettes.
When he left the venue on Thursday afternoon, he was escorted to a bullet-proof vehicle by three armed men.
By the time he arrived at the vehicle's front passenger door, eight burly men milled around him, while more stood along the street.
After the vehicle drove away, some of the men stood watch, before following.