Murdered lawyer Mihalik gets surprise mention at extortion trial

13 November 2018 - 16:06
By Philani Nombembe
Cape Town advocate Pete Mihalik was killed as he dropped of his children at school.
Image: Supplied Cape Town advocate Pete Mihalik was killed as he dropped of his children at school.

Slain Cape Town lawyer Pete Mihalik’s name came up in the trial of alleged extortion racket bosses on Tuesday – to the chagrin of the opposing counsel.

Radley Dijkers, the manager of Grand Café Africa, testified about how he got to use the services of a security company known as TSG at the V&A Waterfront restaurant – an alleged façade for an extortion racket controlled by Nafiz Modack.

Dijkers testified about an SMS he received from Modack in November last year asking him to reserve a table for Mihalik in the restaurant’s VVIP section. The SMS is contained in a 1,240-page document comprised of cell phone records, including that of a number that Modack used.

But attorney Bruce Hendricks, who worked closely with Mihalik, objected. He said there was no need to drag Mihalik’s name into the matter if it does not prove the state’s case.

He said the same thing happened during the bail application earlier this year of Modack and his co-accused Colin Booysen, Ashley Fields and Jacques Cronje. Then, he said, everything got "sensationalised". Hendricks represents Booysen.

All four men are accused of extortion and money laundering, while Modack, Booysen and Fields are accused of providing a security service without being registered as a security company. They have all pleaded not guilty.

The fifth accused, Carl Lakay, was killed in a hit outside his home on August 5.

The trial is linked to a hostile takeover of night club security in Cape Town.

Hendricks told TimesLIVE during the lunch break: "Why do you want to mention advocate Mihalik? It doesn’t deal with the state's case. It's a smear campaign."

Modack’s counsel, Dirk Uys, said his client admitted that he sent the SMS but said it was a "friendly message". At first, Uys said the cellphone number was registered in Modack’s wife’s name but later said it was registered in his brother’s name.

Mihalik was shot last month while dropping off his children at school. The hit on the prominent lawyer was allegedly at the behest of well-known crime bosses. Three men - the alleged middle man and two alleged hitmen - have since been arrested.

The trial continues.