Alleged underworld figure Nafiz Modack and his co-accused celebrated their acquittal on a string of extortion-related charges with lunch at The Grand Café on Thursday – the very establishment they were accused of extorting.
Modack, Colin Booysen, Ashley Fields and Jacques Cronje had faced a litany of charges – from extortion to money laundering – in relation to an alleged racket which targeted the nightclub and restaurant security industry in Cape Town.
They had been accused of taking over these services in the city in 2017 and forcing the owners to pay, which was brought to a head during an incident at The Grand Café in Granger Bay.
But on Thursday, the four were acquitted.
Magistrate Byron Pedro found there was no evidence proving the establishment was extorted by Modack and his co-accused, EWN reported.
Pedro ruled the evidence proved the meeting, during which an extra R90 000 for security was agreed to in November 2017, was a business negotiation.
When asked for comment, Modack told News24: “The [magistrate] could see it’s a fabricated case. And the evidence spoke for itself.”
Not satisfied with being found not guilty, the businessman said he had instructed his lawyers to sue the State as well as The Grand Café for R50 million, as well as the police officers involved in the matter “in their personal name”.
The former brand manager of The Grand Café, Radley Dijkers, had testified that earlier that year, a delegation in a convoy of cars had arrived at the upmarket restaurant and informed him that security services would be taken over by TSG – a security company, he was informed, was owned by Booysen.
The establishment never signed a contract or received a quote.
In November that year, Dijkers testified, ahead of a launch party, the accused had informed them security would cost R150 000 instead of the R15 000 agreed upon weeks earlier.
A meeting had taken place, also attended by the company’s general manager Stuart Bailey, where 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, Dijkers had told the court.
Also present at the gathering was Carl Lakay who was head of security at The Grand Café. He was shot dead in August before the trial commenced.
Dijkers said Modack had later sent him an SMS asking for a table to be reserved for advocate Pete Mihalik who was the lead defence lawyer in the extortion case before recusing himself earlier in the proceedings. He was gunned down in 2018.
On the night of the event, the money was collected from the establishment’s tills along with the proceeds of ticket sales and handed to Lakay in a plastic bag before the midnight deadline, according to testimony.
Dijkers said he was later informed at a management meeting that criminal charges of extortion and intimidation had been laid against the four by Bailey, a move he said he considered a “terrible mistake” as he feared for their safety.
On Thursday, Modack said: “This win is for the late Pete Mihalik and the legal teams who had done the job.”
Last month, he unsuccessfully made an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to interdict the authorities from harassing him, saying in his legal papers that we would be arrested, framed, “probably injured and possibly killed” by the police.
Modack, in his affidavit, charged that he “found it nearly impossible” to live in his Plattekloof home owing to what he called continuous harassment and alleged attempted intimidation by police officers.
According to him, the police had “redoubled their efforts” to “get at” him as the extortion case had been “virtually destroyed” in court.
According to Modack, “fatal weaknesses” had been found by his lawyers.