Modack quartet have lunch at the Grand after being cleared of extortion
After being acquitted on Thursday of extorting Grand Africa Cafe and Beach in Cape Town, alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack and his three co-accused went for lunch there.
Modack sent SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE a photograph of himself, Colin Booysen, Ashley Fields and Jacques Cronje standing outside the V&A Waterfront establishment.
Earlier, the Cape Town regional court agreed with lawyers for the four men that the state had too little evidence to prove that their clients extorted Grand Africa.
The dismissal of the charges came after the state closed its case and before the defence produced any evidence or witnesses.
The four men were accused of having demanded R90,000 for providing security in November 2017, hours before a major event.
Three weeks ago, prosecutor Mervin Menigo said two witnesses, Grand Africa's ex-manager Radley Dijkers and former Harbour House Group employee Stewart Bailey, were under the impression their party would be disrupted and their business affected if they did not pay the alleged extortionists.
Cronje's lawyer, Edwin Grobler, objected to the state's use of “outside evidence”, such as media publications, as a basis for the witnesses' fear of the accused.
He was referring to the state's submission that the witnesses felt intimidated by the presence of the accused on the day in question due to what they had read in the media about hostile takeovers of Cape Town nightclub security.
Menigo admitted that there was no explicit threat, but said the presence of the men and their words implied that bad things would befall the business if they withheld the payment, which they saw as a tax.
He pointed out that none of the men had a clear connection to TSG, the security company which had been providing the Grand with security for seven months, and said they had no right to make demands for money on behalf of TSG.
Modack's counsel, Dirk Uys, conceded that his client “furnished advice” as a consultant for TSG but said he was not an employee and that he derived no benefit from the deal.
“The court must draw its own conclusion from the evidence. It is clear that [Modack] was there to get an increase. He must have been doing it for TSG. He wasn't doing it for any other purpose,” said Uys.
But despite paying R90,000 to a now-deceased fifth accused in the matter, Carl Lakay - the only TSG employee among the group who met Dijkers - Grand Africa did not receive more guards and had to rely on the 15 agreed to with TSG director Grant Veroni.
The defence pointed out that Dijkers and Bailey were sanctioned by Harbour House Group to negotiate with Modack and the other accused and that the business's contract with TSG continued for almost a year after the suspects were arrested in December 2017.
They also pointed out that the complainants testified before the court that they were satisfied with TSG's services.
Menigo dismissed the defence's allegation that the case against the accused was part of a police conspiracy with alleged underworld figure Mark Lifman to stop the men muscling in on his nightclub security business.
He said the fact that Capt Anthea Jaftha and her team from the police anti-gang unit were given branded jackets in exchange for protecting the facility during a company function “was embarrassing for the SAPS” but there was no ulterior motive.
Jaftha and her team were also at Lifman's house in Sea Point when Bailey visited him to discuss what he believed was a hostile takeover of the Grand's security.
Menigo said the absence of an original statement from Jaftha, who launched the extortion investigation, was “not typical” of someone whose motive it was to destroy the suspects. He pointed out that the witnesses even attempted to hide evidence from the police when they created an invoice for the R90,000 nearly a week later.
Bruce Hendricks, representing Fields and Booysen, said the police officers' meeting with Lifman, the gift of jackets for security and Jaftha's conduct were reason enough for the court to find there was undue influence from a third party.
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