Cape Town gangs fight each other. What's new? Cape Town's police are also fighting – and the two fights are interlinked in a disturbing way.
A spit among the police in the Western Cape has revealed profound breaks in the police – the head of the country's criminal police, who has labeled some policemen a "rogue troop", and a detective accusing them of having collaborated with underworlds.
In return, there are counter-reproaches, the detective and his allies are those who would have found a party in the underworld.
With the addition of darkness – and the high stakes – you can see that some gangsters have joined forces with ANC factions to seek mutual development and protection.
There was a heavy blow in December when Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, a senior detective on Cape Town, made a 59-page complaint to his superiors in which he assaulted him and several colleagues, including the Major General of the Western Cape, Major General Jeremy Vearey, and Chief of the National Criminal Police Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs.
Kinnear accused six officers led by a Brigadier Sanjith Hansraj. According to police correspondence, which was seen by amaBhungane, he is subordinate to the office of the chief commissioner for general crimes of the Western Cape criminal Mzwandile Tiyo.
Kinnear also said in his lawsuit that two of the officers claimed to work "under the command" of Tiyo.
To keep it simple, we call Hansraj and his colleagues the "Tiyo Group".
Hansraj told amaBhungane that he works with his union and lawyers on Kinnear's lawsuit. "The truth will come out," he said.
Tiyo asked questions to the police communications department.
Police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo told amaBhungane that National Commissioner Khehla Sitole considered Kinnear's charges "very serious" and ordered two high-ranking officers to investigate the charges and counterclaims at the national level.
Two sets of claims – and bulls
Kinnear is the investigator in a high-profile court drama in Cape Town – a blackmail case against businessman Nafiz Modack, who leads the alleged alignment between underworld figures in Cape Town, dirty cops and politicians.
Modack is the apparent heir to the Hüpf Empire of Cyril Beeka. Beeka, an intelligence officer, had dominated nightclub security in Cape Town before being gunned down in March 2011. Nightclub security is often seen as a link with the illicit drug trade.
The case against Modack, which is expected to be heard in the county court in Cape Town next month, was also used to settle counterclaims against members of the Kinnear group – not least that they are working with controversial Modack rival Mark Lifman.
Modack has actually claimed that his arrest was a prison that would benefit Lifman, who was also interested in the security of nightclubs.
However, the allegation is mutually exclusive: in his lawsuit against the Tiyo group, Kinnear selected a Captain Alfred Barker, whom he claimed had a connection with Modack. Barker refused a comment.
Modack has denied in court that he worked with corrupt police and instead said that he only passed on information he received from others to police officers. He has also denied the criminal charges to which he is exposed.
Lifman has previously denied being involved in a crime and has alleged that the state has targeted him for other reasons.
In mid-January, Jacobs, head of the National Criminal Police Office, sent the conflict to the police by emailing National Police Commissioner Sitole, in which he supported Kinnear and called the Tiyo group a "rogue team".
Jacobs, who hails from the Western Cape, recommended dissolving the group and investigating their operations by departmental and criminal law.
Fractions and the Zuma factor
The situation is reflected in the province, where tensions among police officers at national level are determined by their past, perceived or actual agreement with former President Jacob Zuma.
There has long been a suspicion that certain officers have been deployed to protect Zuma and his interests, and that they have blocked the work of those deemed to be anti-Zuma.
Jacobs and Vearey have a common history, both as former UMkhonto weSizwe activists and, more recently, among police officers who have been linked to investigations embarrassing for Zuma and the police officers he appoints.
Part of this fragmentation was exposed when a national anti-weapons smuggling investigation center revealed that firearms intended to be stored or destroyed by the police were being sent to gangsters from the Western Cape.
Weapons for gangsters
Vearey, the provincial detective then and now, and Jacobs, who served as secret service chief in the province, initially drove Project Impi, the weapons smuggling syringe.
In June 2016, the two were removed from the investigation when they were transferred to different posts – effectively downgraded. Tiyo was appointed to the position of Jacobs, and Major General Patrick Mbotho, now Hawks Head in the northwest, in Vearey's.
On the same day, another senior official, Sonja Harri, the provincial chief of police, who had contacted Vearey, was laterally displaced. Harri has recently filed a lawsuit against Mbotho, accusing her of having "victimized perceptions" of her [Vearey’s] Warehouse".
Mbotho declined to comment and referred questions to the police communications department. The Western Cape Police spokesman, André Traut, said it was "inappropriate" to discuss the Harri complaint because it was an internal matter between employer and employee.
In June 2016, the allegations against executives – including Tiyo and Mbotho – were changed.
Vearey and Jacobs appealed to the Cape Town Labor Court to reverse their referrals. There, details of Project Impi and breaches within the police were revealed.
According to the Labor Court, Project Impi began a Western Cape investigation in December 2013, but it became a national investigation.
This included a look at police officers issuing fraudulent weapons licenses; Firearms are stored for possible use against the state; cross-border shootings; and, above all, firearms were meant to be destroyed or secured by police sold to Cape gangsters.
Why was Project Impi planed?
Vearey said in his affidavit by the Labor Court that he believed his transfer was partly motivated by his role as former MP Vytjie Mentor first made reference to Zuma and the Guptas. He said Mentor had requested that he personally receive a statement from her that the officers under his command did so.
Mentor's allegations then surfaced in City Press.
Vearey said he did not know who was behind the media leak, but Mentor then stated that he had arranged for their testimony to be recorded. "That fueled the story … that I was involved in the faction politics, this story really had no basis …
"However, I claim that they have fueled a profound motive that led to my transfer, contrary to the interests of SAPS, the public interest and the prevention of criminal gangs in the Western Cape."
Vearey and Jacobs were transferred to "desk jobs" that pulled them out of the front.
There is more behind it?
AmaBhungane assumes that Vearey, for reasons not yet revealed, believes that his side-lining had as much to do with Project Impi as the Mentor saga.
In January 2015, Impi condemned a police chief, Chris Prinsloo, for supporting a police officer. In June 2016, just before Vearey and Jacobs were effectively downgraded, he entered into a plunder agreement and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Prinsloo had opened an unauthorized storage room in Germiston. Instead of making sure that confiscated firearms were destroyed, he sold about 2,000 weapons to the businessman Irshaad Laher in Cape Town.
It is the case of the state that Laher provided the firearms to the Western Cape gangsters. Prinsloo remains imprisoned while Laher's trial has not yet begun.
Laher's indictment was not undisputed – which in turn opened up the Pandora box of crime and collusion a little more.
The state also accused Laher's defense team, which included attorney Pete Mihalik and his close associate, lawyer Noorudien Hassan, accessing confidential information, including information about a police informant. The informant came from a prominent underworld family and his role in Project Impi was revealed.
Both lawyers have been shot down: Hassan in November 2016 and Mihalik last October.
Hassan and Mihalik have both specialized in criminal law. Together, they represented a Who's Who of Cape organized crime. Although the motives for both murders are unknown, it is suspected that they have fallen victim to their insider knowledge of top gangsters or the dynamics between underworld figures and the police.
Mihalik was initially in Modack's defense team in the case of blackmail, where Kinnear is the investigator. Kinnear complained during the bail process that Mihalik was involved in inappropriate behavior. Mihalik retired, although he had denied the claim.
Before joining Modack's team, Mihalik had represented suspects widely regarded as a fierce rival to Modack. This meant that Mihalik, when dealing with the Modack affair, was considered a threat to those he had previously represented-he may have had information that could be used against them.
Several sources indicate that Mihalik had information about certain current and former officers who allegedly collaborated with underworld figures – an issue that has repeatedly been tabled on Modack's bail and is central to Modack's claim of conspiracy.
Which project Impi revealed
Recalling the labor court proceedings brought by Vearey and Jacobs in 2016; They had argued that the investigation of the firearms was made by rowing the oars without oars. They were on the verge of making more arrests.
They also pointed out that, despite the importance of the investigation, police officers had fewer resources available, making the police vulnerable to civil claims.
"They had thousands of firearms to destroy, and instead they were released into gangs that killed many members of the public," Vearey said.
The smuggled firearms were linked to 1,666 murders, 1,403 homicide attacks and 261 children shot dead in the Cape gang hotspots between 2010 and 2016.
Jacob's affidavit revealed tensions between him and Tiyo, who had replaced him as chief of the provincial criminal police. He claimed that at that time Tiyo did not yet have the required security clearance and was not fit for the job.
The Labor Court ruled in favor of Vearey and Jacobs in August 2017. After a few months, however, they remained in the positions in which they believed they had degraded themselves.
It was only when Cyril Ramaphosa took over the head of state in February 2018 that this changed.
In late March, Jacobs was announced as the new Chief of Crime Investigation in South Africa, and in April Vearey was named Detective Detective in the Western Cape.
In these roles Jacobs and Vearey have been targeted by police officers following Kinnear's lawsuit.
The latest section of the Western Cape police operation may be superimposed on the evil turf war that has hit the provincial underworld.
In recent years, the nightclub security industry has undergone a dramatic change – in response to claims against certain police officers.
There are two main groups involved. The first is allegedly led by Modack, a luxury car sales broker, and Colin Booysen, a suspected gang leader. This was referred to in court as the "Modack Group".
It is widely believed that Modack filled a gap when Beeka was assassinated in 2011. But his entry into nightclub security was not immediate – and there are questions as to who exactly supports and finances him.
After Beeka's death, security operations in Cape Town were initially summed up in shady numbers, including Colin's brother Jerome "Donkie" Booysen and his colleague Lifman.
It is worth noting that a Hawks investigator in 2012 named Jerome Booysen suspect in Beeka's assassination and head of the Sexy Boys gang, although nothing came of that claim.
Six years after Beeka's death and after the merger of bouncer operations, Modack entered the security zone of the nightclub.
The Modack group is now opposing the group allegedly owned by Jerome Booysen and Lifman – known in court as the "Lifman Group".
Like Beeka, Modack is familiar with Zuma's son Duduzane and performs his ANC connections. Once he was wearing a jacket with the logo of the party in court.
Lifman has his own obvious political connections: in 2014, he was caught along with former ANC chairman Marius Fransman and Zuma at the birthday party of the then president in Cape Town.
It was alleged that during the controversial appointment of Tom Moyane to the South African Revenue Service, a tax case against Lifman was intentionally blocked from within.
Security of night clubs – arrests and a central deposit
According to the police investigators in court, the Modack group came in March 2017 with the acquisition of nightclub security in the city of Cape Town and in the distance and robbed the Lifman Group control.
Investigators believe that controlling a company's door is synonymous with controlling drugs and other illegal objects that pass through them.
The takeover of the nightclub security was interrupted by shootings and skirmishes.
In mid-December 2017, Modack, Colin Booysen and four others were arrested for allegedly forcing their security operations into a Granger Bay establishment; This resulted in the blackmail case.
One of the four was shot down in August 2018 in Goodwood, Cape Town.
The bail application, which ran from the end of December 2017 to the end of February 2018, resulted in grave allegations against police officers.
The allegations can be divided into two categories: the first was that Kinnear and the officers working with him were under the influence of the Lifman group, while the second was that Modack worked with at least one member of the Tiyo group.
Kinnear, as the investigator in the case against Modack and his co-defendants, reported Vearey.
The "questionable" arrest and raids
While the guarantee applications came to an end in February 2018, Lifman was arrested after returning from an overseas trip to Cape Town. Provincial Commissioner Khombinkosi Jula praised the detectives who had made the arrest.
In his 59-page complaint alleging a conspiracy by a member of the "Tiyo Group", Kinnear Barker – the officer he suggested near Modack – accused him of being instrumental in Lifman's irregular arrest had been involved.
Lifman was accused of intimidation and a firearm. It turned out that the complainant was Modack, who was still in custody for the blackmail case. Days after Lifman's arrest, even before he entered a courtroom, the case was withdrawn against him.
William Booth, Lifman's lawyer, said to amaBhungane in February, "Mr. Lifman is in [the] Legal proceedings against the police for his unlawful arrest in February 2018 and an illegal search at his home a few months earlier … "
Allegations of unlawful searches of Lifman's house reflect earlier claims by Modack.
Policemen raided his house in Plattekloof in July 2017, but Modack complained that they had no search warrant and that the officers had "broken in" his house and stolen secret documents from a safe.
In fact, Lifman and Modack have labeled various groups within the police as "rogues."
Spy vs. Spy and Serbian connections
Modack's attitude to factions within the police was revealed in the District Court of Cape Town when Kinnear revealed details of state-owned sound recordings during Modack's notice of denunciation.
Kinnear said Modack claimed in a recording that he (Kinnear) and Vearey are on the payroll of Lifman and Jerome Booysen.
Kinnear also referred to another recording of a May meeting between Vearey, Modack and Russell Christopher, a former State Security Commissioner (SSA) whom Modack called "Uncle Russel".
Vearey and Christopher have both trained in ANC intelligence and seem to be close. Christopher also stood near Beeka – as well as former high-ranking intelligence officer Mo Shaik.
Kinnear claimed in his statement that during this meeting, Modack had to deal with high-ranking police officers and named Tiyo and Mbotho as officers who could "get alright" if he ever had a problem.
These were coincidentally the two police officers who took Jacobs and Vearey on their transfer in June 2016.
Then there was another recording that Kinnear referred to-Modack talking to a man from Serbia who turned out to be George Darmanovic.
Darmanovic, a South African of the Montenegrin Serbs, previously worked for the SSA and had known Beeka. He died in May 2018 in a hail of bullets in the Serbian capital Belgrade.
Kinnear had testified that Modack's communication with Darmanovic showed his connections to government officials.
At the time of his murder, Darmanovic claimed to investigate Lifman. He claimed amaBhungane that Lifman was protected from the highest police forces, the SSA and SARS.
Interestingly, eleven days before Darmanovic's death, a man from Serbia, Milan Djuricic, was gunned down in Johannesburg.
Djuricic's apparent murder is indirectly related to Beeka. Djuricic was associated with another Serb, Dobrosav Gavric, who was Beekas driver bodyguard and drove Beeka when he died.
Gavric lived under a false name in South Africa and was on the run after being convicted in January 2000 for the brutal assassination of the Serbian gangster and war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan. This hit was allegedly done by order of the Serbian secret service, in which Gavric was referred to as an operational staff.
Djuricic had also been present when Arkan had been killed, and was sentenced like Gavric for his murder.
The circle closed: Beeka, the security trooper and secret service chief of the nightclub, was led and alleged by Gavric, a Serb assassin, when he was murdered.
Seven years later, the accomplice of Gavric, Djuricic, was apparently killed in South Africa just before Darmanovic, a former South African intelligence officer, was killed in Serbia.
The context of this violence is the nightlife on the Cape – where music, money, drugs, prostitution and protection meet.
This swirling hall of mirrors is a popular hunting ground not only for organized crime but also for the secret services. And sometimes they are indistinguishable.
Watch Part 2 to see how alleged links between a Czech criminal and the former president of South Africa have blurred the line between police and criminals.
The AmaBhungane Center for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit organization, produced this story. I like? Bean Amab supporters to help us to do more. Sign up for ours Newsletter and WhatsApp alerts get more.