Modack extortion trial told of police officer's mystery missing statement
The police officer who began an extortion investigation into Nafiz Modack has not made a statement in support of the state's case against the alleged Cape Town underworld leader.
Under cross-examination in the Cape Town regional court on Thursday, Lt-Col Charl Kinnear was unable to explain why Capt Anthea Japhta had not compiled an affidavit.
Japhta was the detective who obtained a statement from Harbour House Group manager Stewart Bailey, which formed the foundation of the case, launched in November 2017.
Harbour House owns the Grand Africa Café at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, where Modack is alleged to have staged a "hostile takeover” of security services in April 2017.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) requested the affidavit in May and Kinnear, the investigating officer in the case, told the court he had been in almost daily contact with her since then.
Also outstanding is Bailey's original statement, which Kinnear said had disappeared.
Bailey's statement also contained several discrepancies compared with the testimony of Radley Dijkers, former Grand Africa Café brand manager, who faces criminal charges after he incriminated himself on the witness box.
The statements from Dijkers and Bailey were the only two Kinnear collected before arresting Modack, Colin Booysen, Ashleigh Fields, Jacques Cronje and Carl Lakay.
Asked why he did not obtain more statements, Kinnear said no one else from Harbour House Group or the Grand was interested in talking to him.
"I find it very strange that no one from Harbour House Group, whose money was allegedly stolen, was interested in assisting you in this case,” Booysen's lawyer, Bruce Hendricks, said during Kinnear's cross-examination on Thursday.
Kinnear agreed it was a "very strange case”. But Hendricks alleged the policeman was part of a plot orchestrated by alleged underworld boss Mark Lifman.
Hendricks used the term "Cape capture” to explain how certain police officers were allegedly used to instigate false arrests.
The court also heard that Kinnear may have played a hand in disrupting his own case when he helped to write a document that led to an attempt to arrest Booysen during the trial.
During court proceedings in October last year, anti-gang unit head Maj-Gen André Lincoln interrupted and produced a warrant of arrest for murder. It named Booysen and his two bodyguards.
Prosecutor Mervyn Menigo told the magistrate, Bruce Pedro, that he had told the investigating officer Booysen would not be able to keep to his bail conditions because he was on trial in Cape Town. This led to Pedro chastising Lincoln.
A few days before the trial, Booysen was allegedly targeted in a hit in Belhar, stronghold of the Booysen family. One of the alleged assassins was killed by his bodyguard, leading to the murder charge.
Kinnear admitted to having helped to compile the affidavit which was the basis for the arrest. At the time, Menigo told the court: “I expect they [the police] knew that their actions would have exactly this consequence.”
Hendricks questioned Kinnear about his meetings with Lifman.
At one of the meetings, at Lifman's Sea Point home, he asked Lifman about the fight between himself and Modack. Lifman explained that the conflict was about nightclub security contracts.
Kinnear said the reason for the meeting was to interview Lifman about a crimen injuria case he had lodged against Cronje. The case has since been struck off the roll at the Cape Town magistrate's court.
Kinnear could not recall what the second meeting at Lifman's house was about.
The third meeting, Kinnear said, occurred when he bumped into Lifman while "working at an event” at Cape Town Stadium. He said they went to a restaurant to talk about his crimen injuria case.
Japhta also met Lifman at his house shortly before Modack's arrest in December 2017.
Dijkers testified that he went to Lifman for protection after reporting Modack for alleged extortion, and was caught off-guard when Japhta and her team entered the house.
He said he felt "embarrassed” that a police officer he trusted had seen him with Lifman, but added that Japhta seemed unsurprised to see him there.
Hendricks alleged that Maj-Gen Jeremy Vearey, the provincial detective head who appointed Japhta and Kinnear to investigate Cape Town's nightclub turf war, had threatened Booysen while he was in police custody, and said his client had opened an intimidation case against Vearey.
The defence lawyer also asked Kinnear whether he thought it was "bizarre” that Niall Smith, CEO of the Harbour House Group, was not interested in the case, despite the allegation that he had lost R90,000 as a result of the alleged extortion.
"In the normal world, yes it will be,” said Kinnear.
The case continues.