The brand manager of upmarket restaurant The Grand Café believed laying charges against alleged underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack and his three co-accused was a "terrible mistake", he testified in the Cape Town Regional Court on Tuesday.
Radley Dijkers now faces the possibility of incriminating himself after he alluded to wanting to conceal the alleged crime.
The trial against Modack, Colin Booysen, Ashley Fields and Jacques Cronje came to a screeching halt after Magistrate Byron Pedro questioned whether the State's witness was aware he could be implicating himself.
The four men he is testifying against face a string of charges ranging from extortion to money laundering in relation to an alleged extortion racket which targeted the nightclub and restaurant security industry in Cape Town.
They allegedly took over the Cape Town restaurant's security and forced the owners to pay for the service in 2017, News24 reported on Monday.
This after Dijkers recounted that early last year, a delegation in a convoy of cars arrived at the establishment and informed him that security services would be taken over by TSG - a security company that he was informed was owned by Booysen.
Increase from R15 000 to R150 000 for security
The Grand Café never signed a contract or received a quote.
Dijkers testified that the accused had in November last year met with him and the company's general manager Stuart Bailey prior to a launch party.
Also present was fifth accused Carl Lakay, who was in charge of security at The Grand Café. He was shot dead in August before the commencement of the trial.
Dijkers said it had been agreed weeks prior that they would pay R15 000 for security at the party.
But at a meeting on the day of the event, Booysen said security would cost R150 000.
The meeting at the café allegedly took place after the event manager had been informed the day before that the cost had increased, but the payment had not been authorised.
During the meeting, Dijkers said he was informed that the augmented cost was to pay 80 guards R2 000 each.
Bailey said they only had authorisation to pay R15 000, and Booysen allegedly responded that they "mustn't pay peanuts, because they aren't monkeys", Dijkers said.
Money collected from tills
Negotiations ensued before it was settled that a payment of R90 000 would be accepted, in cash, and that The Grand Café would up its monthly security payment from R70 000 to R100 000.
"I wanted to make the gentlemen sitting in front of me happy," said Dijkers.
He said Modack later sent him an SMS asking for a table to be reserved for advocate Pete Mihalik.
Mihalik was the lead defence lawyer in the extortion case before recusing himself earlier in the proceedings.
He was gunned down two weeks ago while dropping his children off at school in Green Point.
The money was collected from the establishment's tills, along with the proceeds of ticket sales.
Dijkers said they handed Lakay a plastic bag of cash before their midnight deadline.
He was informed at a management meeting that criminal charges of extortion and intimidation had been laid against the four by Bailey.
'A terrible mistake'
Dijkers said he told the CEO and a shareholder present in the meeting that he felt Bailey had done the right thing.
"I said it was in the best interest of the safety or our staff, us and the patrons," he testified.
An "upset" Dijkers the next day phoned Bailey and told him he had made a "terrible mistake" in laying charges against Modack and his co-accused.
"I feared for my safety, and his," Dijkers testified.
Pedro asked prosecutor Mervin Meningo if his witness was aware that he could be incriminating himself in terms of concealment of a crime.
He referred to section 203 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which reads that no witness in criminal proceedings is compelled to answer a question if it may expose him to a criminal charge.
The State requested the matter be adjourned to allow for consultation with the witness.
Attorney Bruce Hendricks, for Fields and Cronje, objected on the grounds that his clients felt prejudiced by the "unreasonable delay" as it impeded their right to a speedy trial.
Pedro allowed the adjournment.
The matter resumes on Wednesday.
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