Cape Town - Private security regulator inspectors fear they will be targeted and killed if they speak out against certain companies involved in nightclub operations, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Friday.
Video footage, also referred to during court proceedings, has highlighted how volatile an escalating club security battle is.
The footage was not shown in court, but was described as showing a group of men blocking off a street in the Cape Town city centre. The court heard that the men then gather together and appear to beat someone.
The footage, as well as the fears of the private security inspectors, was referred to in the bail application of security company director Grant Veroni.
Veroni, director of Bellville-based company Skhosana Maponyane Hall Phillips and Khumalo, trading as The Security Group (TSG), faces two charges relating to the alleged possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
He also faces a fraud charge in a separate case, set to be heard in Bellville, in which it is alleged that he and a co-accused recruited security guards and applied for firearm licences for them, but never actually employed them.
Sergeant Edward Edwardes, who is involved in police investigations of the underworld, on Thursday testified that TSG is linked to suspected Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome "Donkie" Booysen, his brother Colin Booysen and controversial businessman Nafiz Modack.
Edwardes had said these individuals were involved in trying to dominate nightclub security, which meant being in control of the drug trade.
He had said TSG was intent on taking over security.
The company provides security to several establishments in the Cape Town city centre.
Edwardes said that another of TSG’s directors, Hussain Ait Taleb, a martial arts expert better known in bouncer circles as Hussain Moroccan, faced a conspiracy to commit murder charge for allegedly contracting two individuals to kill a club owner.
Edwardes said the club owner had refused to pay Taleb for protection and was therefore targeted.
On Friday Edwardes testified under cross-examination that many of TSG’s security guards were not registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira).
He said, as such, he went to Gansbaai to obtain a statement about this from Edward Booysens, a senior Psira inspector.
Inspectors fear being put on hit list
“He continuously asked: ‘But am I going to be safe? Aren’t they going to put a hit on me?’
“Even Psira inspectors fear for their lives if they take on certain security companies.”
Edwardes said he had explained to Booysens that he was obliged, by law, to make the statement about TSG’s security guards.
He said Booysens had indicated that he was scared of individuals including Veroni and Modack.
Under re-examination, Edwardes said Booysens had asked what the implications of providing a statement on TSG would be.
Edwardes said he had tried to lighten the mood by making a joke, but “that was also a concern for me.”
Booysens, he said, had been reluctant to make the statement.
Edwardes said Psira was “absolutely” operating under “a cloud” created by underworld security figures.
For a detailed breakdown on what has been happening in the underworld, see News24's showcase Underworld Unmasked
The two charges Veroni face relate to a firearm he was allegedly found with in November in a flat above a club in Long Street - a popular party strip in the Cape Town city centre.
Edwardes said at the time, Veroni had been acting as a bodyguard for Colin Booysen.
The firearm Veroni had on him was registered to the company Eagle VIP Security.
Edwardes said Eagle VIP Security had been owned by Mathys Visser, who was Modack's personal bodyguard.
However, in March this year Eagle VIP Security 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. The charges against Veroni stem from this.
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.
‘Illegal sharing’ of guns
Attorney Bruce Hendricks, who was representing Veroni, said there had been an agreement between Veroni and Visser that they would work as subcontractors and help each other out.
This would involve Visser allowing Veroni to use firearms from his company.
However, Edwardes testified that, according to the Firearms Control Act, one company’s guard could not be provided with a firearm from another company.
Hendricks argued that Veroni had not been aware of this at the time.
Edwardes hit back, saying: “In the Firearms Control Act you can’t use ignorance as an excuse.”
Hendricks said Veroni had not been involved in the extortion and other violence incidents Edwardes had testified about.
But Edwardes said Veroni had implicated himself in these matters by association.
Reality on the ground - shootings
He said he wanted to show the court the video of the group of men gathering outside a club and beating up a man so it could “get a clear perspective of what’s going on outside”.
Edwardes then listed individuals who had been shot at establishments.
He said a British tourist was wounded in the arm and another person was shot and wounded, which affected his kidney and liver, in Café Caprice in Camps Bay. This happened on April 17.
Edwardes said a DJ and a woman standing at the door of an establishment in Loop Street, were wounded in a shooting. This was on May 4.
He also referred to the murder of Nicole Muller, 30, a mother of two, who was killed in a shooting in Stellenbosch nightclub Cubana on October 14.
Donovan Jacobs, who sources identified to News24 as a 28s gang member, was also killed in the Cubana shooting, while a third person was wounded.
Hendricks said Veroni had not been involved in these incidents and, before being arrested this year, had not been charged for any crimes for two decades.
‘People are afraid’
But Edwardes said this could be because people were scared to come forward.
“The people out there are too afraid to lay complaints against these people,” he said.
“They fear for their lives.”
On Thursday Edwardes said that, in some underworld cases, witnesses had disappeared.
He said at the time that he believed that Veroni was granted bail, witnesses would want nothing to do with the case or would "disappear or get badly hurt".
Hendricks said several other individuals had been mentioned during the bail application and had not been arrested or charged.
The underworld investigation is ongoing.
A decision on whether or not Veroni will be released on bail is set to be announced next week.