Cops and corruption claims: Police 'tensions' emerge in Modack extortion case

Cape Town – The names of several senior Western Cape police officers have cropped up during the bail application of suspected underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack, further highlighting rifts within the police which were previously exposed.

Claims, including that one officer is a member of a notorious gang and that two others work with Modack, have been made.

This officer was involved in South Africa’s biggest ever firearm smuggling investigation, which unearthed information that some police officers were complicit in smuggling guns to gangs in the Western Cape.

Modack’s bail application has, therefore, become a platform for the airing of ructions within the police.

He is accused of extortion and intimidation, alongside Colin Booysen – the brother of alleged Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome Booysen – Jacques Cronje, Ashley Fields and Carl Lakay.

They face charges relating to the nightclub security industry, in that they allegedly took over security operations at clubs and restaurants, forcing owners to pay them.

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

The group was arrested on December 15, and shortly afterwards lodged an application to be released on bail.

This bail application, which has been running for weeks, is set to continue next week.

Charl Kinnear, a colonel who is investigating fights in Cape Town clubs, has so far been the only witness called in the matter.

On Wednesday, it emerged that he had been booked off because he had experienced chest pains on the way to court. The application was, therefore, postponed.

'Demoted' cops in court

Previously, among the senior police officers in court for the proceedings, was Major General Jeremy Vearey, the head of the Cape Town cluster of police stations – who was instrumental in Modack’s arrest – as well as Major General Peter Jacobs, the head of the Wynberg cluster of police stations.

Earlier this month, Kinnear testified about several recordings.

One such recording, he said, was a meeting between Modack, Vearey, and former State Security Agency (SSA) official Russel Christopher, who trained with Vearey in the ANC’s intelligence structures prior to 1994.

In the recording, Modack said if ever there were a problem "Tiyo and Mbotho" can sort it out.

He was referring to Major General Mzwandile Tiyo, the Western Cape police’s head of crime intelligence, and Major General Patrick Mbotho, a provincial head of detectives.

Transfers and replacements

Tiyo and Mbotho were the two police officers who replaced Vearey and Jacobs when they were suddenly transferred from their positions in June 2016.

Vearey, who had been the deputy provincial commissioner for detectives, was shifted to a position he had previously held – that of commander of the Cape Town cluster of police stations. Mbotho then replaced Vearey.

Jacobs had headed the Western Cape’s crime intelligence unit, but in June 2016 was suddenly appointed the head of the Wynberg cluster of police stations. Tiyo then replaced Jacobs.

Vearey and Jacobs took the matter to the Labour Court in Cape Town, which in August 2017 ruled that the transfers should be set aside. This has not yet happened.

Police 'politics'

In court papers in the matter, Vearey and Jacobs detailed how they believed they had been sidelined because of matters relating to former MP Vytjie Mentor and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

READ: Top cops claim critical investigations derailed by politics

Vearey’s affidavit said that, when he had been deputy provincial commissioner for detective services, he had been "responsible for ensuring the recording of a contentious statement to the SAPS by a certain [Vytjie Mentor] and the proper handling of its content".

Mentor's statement detailed, among other things, claims about the controversial Gupta family's close ties to President Jacob Zuma.

Vearey said, although Mentor had requested that he take her statement, it was "recorded routinely" by other members.

Jacobs, in his affidavit, said he and Vearey were wrongly perceived as "Phiyega's people" when she had been national police commissioner.

National firearms investigation

He said he and Vearey were perceived as siding with Phiyega due to the "firearm investigation, which affected both the SAPS and the whole country".

Jacobs was referring a national firearms investigation he and Vearey had headed, and which they said was effectively crippled when they were transferred.

The investigation included looking into whether illicit firearms were being smuggled out of South Africa, if firearms were being stockpiled against the state by right wing groups, and how cops were colluding with gangsters to smuggle guns to them.

A suspect in the firearms smuggling case is Rondebosch businessman Irshaad "Hunter" Laher, who is related to Modack.

Laher and Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves are the accused in a case linked to the alleged selling of firearms – which were meant to have been destroyed by police – to gangsters around the Western Cape.

In Modack’s bail application earlier this month, Kinnear testified that Modack had recorded conversations of himself with others.

One conversation was with someone in Serbia who turned out to be the person who had provided information for author Jacques Pauw's book The President’s Keepers.

Police corruption and murder claims

This, Kinnear had testified, showed Modack's ties to South African government officials.

Kinnear said in the recorded conversation that Modack alleged that Vearey was a 27s gang member who worked for a man named Red.

Modack, in the conversation, and according to Kinnear, said Vearey had worked with Red "to kill attorney Noorudien Hassan".

READ: Top Cape Town attorney murdered

Hassan, who had been involved in several high-profile cases linked to gangs, was murdered in Lansdowne on November 7, 2016.

Kinnear had testified that in another recording, Modack claimed he and Vearey were on the payroll of Jerome Booysen and controversial businessman Mark Lifman.

While testifying, Kinnear had admitted that his son had once been in a relationship with Jerome Booysen’s niece.

But Kinnear had testified that he had never been to Jerome Booysen’s home, as was alleged in the recording.

Next week, if Kinnear has recovered and is in court, the defence will have an opportunity to further question him.

It is expected that his alleged ties to Jerome Booysen are among the aspects that will be focused on.