21 June 2024 | 11:01 AM

SAPS Wars Part 2: It ain’t over till the fat Czech sings

Key Takeaways

Part 1 outlined a spat between Western Cape cops and how it overlays divisions in the provincial underworld. In Part 2, claims by Czech criminal Radovan Krejcir lift this murky mix onto a national stage – where high-level political overtones resonate with the Cape Town scene.

The Krejcir method

Radovan Krejcir made good use of his experience when he landed in Johannesburg as a fugitive from Czech justice in 2007.

In his homeland he had profited from navigating the space between crooked politicians, gangsters, cops and spooks – and in South Africa he took up where he left off, only with a local cast.

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He got to know bouncer boss and intelligence operative Cyril Beeka and controversial Western Cape businessman Mark Lifman, as well as an assortment of crime intelligence officers.

Before he ran out of road, Krejcir even fathered a child with former ANC and state intelligence operative Russel Christopher’s estranged daughter.

In 2013 Krejcir was arrested by Nkosana “Killer” Ximba, right-hand man to Richard Mdluli, the hugely influential former crime intelligence boss and Jacob Zuma ally.

Krejcir claims in an affidavit he signed last July at Leeuwkop prison, where he is serving a sentence for attempted murder and kidnapping, that Beeka introduced him to Duduzane Zuma, the then-president’s son, in 2010.

“Mr Beeka asked me to keep Mr Duduzani [sic] Zuma busy so that the Gupta family and Sahara which is one of the Gupta family company [sic] cannot get to him.”

Krejcir alleges that at some point Duduzane promised to assist him with obtaining asylum in South Africa and Krejcir agreed to pay him R5-million for the service.

Krejcir claims he drove to Nkandla around February 2011 and handed over R2.5-million in cash to Duduzane as a deposit, but that no help was forthcoming.

Part 1 explained that Beeka was murdered in March 2011 and how this impacted on nightclub security operations in Cape Town.

After Beeka’s murder, Krejcir states, his friendship with Duduzane deteriorated “because Mr Beeka, our common friend, was no longer there to keep the momentum going”.

Krejcir claims Ximba fabricated evidence that led to his arrest and conviction.

“I think this was as a result of a broken relationship between me and Mr Duduzani Zuma, the fact that I demanded my 2.5 million back from him. The other factor that contributed to my arrest is that I refused to be cash cow for Mr Ximba to pay him money like other business people did.”

City Press, which first broke the story of Krejcir’s affidavit, approached both Duduzane Zuma and Ximba for comment but received no reply.

Duduzane Zuma’s laywer, Rudi Krause, told amaBhungane that his client was abroad and that he was waiting to take instruction from him before responding.

A WhatsApp, SMS and email sent to a cellphone number and address apparently belonging to Ximba went unanswered. Ximba is now Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina’s chief of security. A staffer who knows Ximba conveyed amaBhungane’s query to him and later said it was unlikely he would respond.

Krejcir, Beeka, Lifman and Modack

It should be recalled that Krejcir got an entrée into the Johannesburg underworld not long after his arrival in South Africa – and that Beeka was soon in the thick of Krejcir’s business and personal dealings.

Lifman was also allegedly part of this mix because, according to police evidence, he was part of a group that played cards with Krejcir.

One of Krejcir’s former henchmen, Milosh Potiska, claimed that Krejcir fell out with Beeka, then allegedly made a brief alliance with Lifman.

In an affidavit handed in at a Krejcir bail hearing, Potiska said Krejcir attended Beeka’s 49th birthday party.

“Krejcir and Beeka then had a fight at Beeka’s birthday party. Beeka beat up Krejcir, and as a result Krejcir went to hospital… He had been publicly humiliated and wanted revenge. This is the way Krejcir is, if he gets humiliated, he wants to kill that person.”

According to other reports the fight started when Krejcir hit someone who he thought was chatting up his mistress. Beeka intervened and slapped Krejcir, who fell and cut himself.

It is understood the person Beeka was protecting was none other than Nafiz Modack, who at that time was Beeka’s young protégé.

(In Part 1 we explained how the Western Cape’s underworld is currently split into two main groups, with one allegedly headed by Modack and backed by suspected gang member Colin Booysen. Police say this group is facing off against the second group, allegedly headed by Colin’s brother, Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, as well as Jerome’s associate, Lifman.)

Potiska stated: “After Beeka was killed, I flew to Cape Town with Krejcir and he met with Lifman and [Jerome] Booysen… Krejcir in my opinion ‘persuaded’ Lifman to kill Beeka, to open Cape Town up for Krejcir and Lifman to control all the night clubs and drugs in Cape Town.

“As part of this new ‘partnership’, Krejcir said he would ‘invest’ in some property project of Lifman and this was agreed. However, Krejcir did not invest because he had no money, and then there was bad blood between Krejcir and Lifman. After this meeting, Krejcir said ‘we must get rid of this motherfucker, or we’ll have a big problem’.”

Lifman’s attorney, William Booth, told amaBhungane: “Mr Lifman is not in any way involved with Mr Beeka’s death – we reject the truthfulness of any one who says he is.”

Lifman has not been charged for Beeka’s murder and, as mentioned in Part 1, Jerome Booysen was in 2012 named a suspect in the killing, but nothing ever came of it.

After Beeka’s assassination, things didn’t work out for Krejcir the way he had, according to Potiska’s affidavit, planned.

Beeka’s murder galvanised investigations into Krejcir’s criminal activities and just two days after the killing, a police task force raided his Bedfordview mansion, purportedly finding a hit list that included Beeka’s name.

But Krejcir had been tipped off and was not there.

Eventually in November 2013, the cop “Killer” Ximba, Mdluli’s right-hand man, struck and something stuck. Krejcir was convicted for a kidnapping and attempted murder unrelated to Beeka’s murder, for which no-one has been charged to date.

The investigation into Beeka’s murder had hit a wall already a month before Krejcir’s arrest, when a key witness, Leon Davids, was gunned down in Cape Town after being lured out of witness protection.

Realignment – Vearey & Jacobs, Mbotho & Tiyo

Then, as now, the upheavals in the underworld took place against a backdrop of upheavals in the police, much of it seemingly driven by the power struggle around Zuma and access to the secrets and the secret funds of crime intelligence.

In Part 1 we showed how senior police officers Peter Jacobs and Jeremy Vearey, both ex-uMkhonto weSizwe operatives, seemed to fall foul of that power struggle when, in June 2016, they were for the time being side-lined in favour of two other officers, Major General Mzwandile Tiyo and Major General Patrick Mbotho.

During the brief tenure of acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, Tiyo replaced Jacobs as Western Cape head of crime intelligence and Mbotho replaced Vearey as the provincial head of detectives.

But the moves against Vearey and Jacobs had significant antecedents.

In October 2011, then national commissioner Bheki Cele was suspended. This was at least partly because of his perceived alignment against Mdluli, the Zuma-supporting crime intelligence boss – although the public protector’s report on the SAPS leasing scandal provided the public justification.

In 2012, Cele’s ally, KwaZulu-Natal Hawks commander Johan Booysen, was also suspended. This was based on a sensational Sunday Times report alleging that the Cato Manor serious and violent crime unit, which fell under Booysen, operated as a hit squad.

Booysen was replaced by Mbotho, who was promoted to become Western Cape detective head when Veary was sidelined in 2016. Meanwhile Tiyo, who replaced Jacobs that same year, was engaged in battles of his own.

In 2013 Tiyo, then acting provincial head of crime intelligence in the Western Cape, began monitoring the communications of the provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer.

The investigation resulted in corruption charges against Lamoer – he and other senior Western Cape cops had received gratification from a local businessman, Saliem Dawjee.

Crime intelligence clashes

Daily Maverick journalist Marianne Thamm has reported suggestions that Lamoer had been investigating elements in crime intelligence, which in turn resulted in him being investigated and caught out.

It was also Tiyo’s monitoring of Lamoer’s communications that led crime intelligence to intercept a call during which then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega tipped off Lamoer about the investigation into him.

The Phiyega link ties back into the Jacobs and Vearey 2016 transfer saga.

In an affidavit challenging his transfer, Jacobs said he and Vearey were “wrongly perceived” to be “Phiyega’s people” and were victims of a purge of those regarded as aligned to her.

Phiyega was suspended in 2015 following negative findings by the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana massacre.

“A false perception… arose because of our regular close cooperation with the suspended National Commissioner during our… firearm investigation,” Jacobs said.

He said the high-level work he and Vearey previously carried out also brought them into conflict with Khombinkosi Jula, the man who replaced Lamoer as Western Cape police commissioner.

“When [Vearey] and I were tasked to develop an… approach to the inter-Provincial Taxi Violence… the assessment also covered the period during which Lieutenant General Jula was the Deputy Provincial Commissioner of the KZN Province…

“Our enquiry into what had been done to address the taxi violence indicated a serious lack of operational coordination and a basic lack of operational leadership. [Jula] was compromised.”

Jula, in turn, criticised the quality of Jacobs’s work.

In her response to Jacobs’ affidavit, the deputy national commissioner of human resources management, Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya, said Jula had previously expressed the view that Jacobs was not suited to retain the position of provincial crime intelligence head.

“The essential point made to me by the Provincial Commissioner was that he was not getting crime intelligence products that were adequate and sufficiently detailed to enable him to discharge his crime fighting function,” she said in an affidavit.

In Part 1, we touched on Kinnear’s complaint, lodged last December, which effectively accused a group of Western Cape officers – the “Tiyo group” – of misusing state resources to personally attack and work against Kinnear, Vearey, Jacobs and others.

Part 1 also outlined how, after Zuma’s ousting, Jacobs was promoted to head crime intelligence nationally and Vearey was reinstated as Western Cape detective head in a permanent capacity.

But the war among cops and gangsters has seemingly intensified since then.

The one side – claims

Kinnear’s formal complaint paints a picture of a deeply fragmented police service embedded with suspected criminals and officers who seem to be running interference and counter-investigations on outsiders’ behalves.

The sparring turns around Kinnear’s investigation of an extortion charge against Modack, the Beeka understudy who is essentially accused of muscling in on protection rackets being forced on Cape club owners.

Modack and his co-accused were arrested in December 2017 and released in February last year following a lengthy bail application. They are expected to go on trial in April.

Suspected underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack.

Kinnear charges that the Tiyo group’s counter-investigations are aimed at trying to pin something on him and, most notably, the officer he reports to, Vearey.

The crux of Kinnear’s complaint is that four of the six officers he singled out allegedly approached drug dealers and gangsters that he and his colleagues had investigated in the Cape Town suburb of Mitchells Plain a decade or more ago “and requested that they make statements and lay charges against us for any type of wrongdoing in order to have us arrested and subsequently discharged from the South African Police Service”.

Indeed, the Sunday Times this week reported that Vearey was under investigation for crimes including torture, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

It said counter-intelligence officers were investigating Vearey and the Mitchells Plain station commander for trying to frame two men for the 2009 murder of an anti-drug activist. Vearey and the station commander declined to comment.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo subsequently told Independent Online there was no investigation against Vearey, but rather an analysis of an old case. Kinnear’s complaint identified a police captain, Alfred Barker, as allegedly being aligned to Modack and working with five other cops in the Tiyo group.

Part 1 revealed that Kinnear had accused Barker, who declined to comment to amaBhungane, of arresting Lifman irregularly in February last year.

Kinnear also alleged that:

  • Barker had tried to see Modack in prison after Modack’s December 2017 arrest in the extortion case, despite instructions that Modack not receive any visits from other police officials.
  • Two police officers he claimed were associated with the Tiyo group had visited another prisoner and warned him not to co-operate with Vearey as “the information would just be given back to Modack and his people”.
  • Barker had also tried to interfere with the investigation of an attempted hit on Jerome Booysen, Lifman’s business partner.
Jacobs’ letter – ‘rogue unit’

Meanwhile Jacobs, in a leaked internal memo following up on Kinnear’s complaint, alleged that officers in the Tiyo group reported to Brigadier Sanjith Hansraj who, Jacobs said, reported directly to Western Cape commissioner Jula.

Jacobs’s memo, dated January 18, pointed out that crime intelligence did not fall under Jula’s mandate and what he called “the Hansraj/Barker team” was operating without authorisation.

“The responsibility for the collection and management [of] Intelligence … is the exclusive responsibility of the Divisional Commissioner of Crime Intelligence [that is himself, Jacobs] and not a Provincial Commissioner,” Jacobs said.

“[It] is thus reasonable to conclude that the team is a rogue team within CI.”

He said Kinnear’s complaint listed cases in which he, Vearey and Kinnear were suspects, yet he had never been warned that he was the subject of any sort of investigation. He also said that Barker was not a crime intelligence member.

Jacobs said he asked the Western Cape’s crime intelligence head, Tiyo, about Barker’s placement and that Tiyo told him to ask Jula.

“Given that the [team of police officers in question] reported to Lt Genl Jula and not the Divisional Commissioner of CI… the [team] is operating ultra-vires and thus irregularly.”

Jacobs recommended that the team be disbanded.

On January 28, 10 days after Jacobs’ memo, Jula sent an email summoning 14 police officers – those named in Kinnear’s complaint as well as those allegedly being targeted – to a meeting with Mark Magadlela, the acting deputy national commissioner of crime detection.

Jula instructed them to hand in all dockets relating to the claims and counter-claims between colleagues – and instructed commanders to ensure that none of the police officers invited to the meeting took action against their colleagues.

Jula did not answer a call to his phone or respond to an SMS query about the meeting.

Tiyo declined to comment overall, saying he was not authorised to speak to the media. Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut referred queries about the meeting to national police.

National investigation

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo told amaBhungane the matter was internal, and Jacobs’s memo about Kinnear’s complaint was intended for internal purposes.

However, Naidoo said national police commissioner Khehla Sitole had tasked two very senior officers to gather the dockets relating to the charges and counter-charges and elevate the investigations to national level.

Naidoo said the allegations contained in Kinnear’s complaint were “viewed in a very serious light”.

In mid-January the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) confirmed that a team, instructed by its national office, was also also investigating Kinnear’s complaint.

While Barker has not provided public comment and Hansraj provided only a short response to the effect that he was addressing Kinnear’s complaint and the truth would emerge, some hints of the Tiyo group’s counter-allegations have emerged from the Modack bail application.

The other side — counterclaims

In Part 1 we noted that while testifying in the Modack bail application, Kinnear revealed that Modack had alleged that Vearey and Kinnear were on the payroll of Lifman and Jerome Booysen.

Such claims are easy to make and deny, but Kinnear also found himself the target of more substantial allegations.

He was confronted with a picture of his son and Jerome Booysen’s son together, suggesting an unhealthily close relationship with the so-called Modack group’s rivals.

Kinnear countered that his children had been friends with Jerome Booysen’s sister’s children as they had schooled together.

But Kinnear was also questioned about three encounters he had with Lifman – two involving him going to Lifman’s home.

On the flipside, Kinnear’s testimony throughout the bail application appeared calculated to isolate Modack by highlighting what he presented to be implausible claims that Modack had made against Kinnear and his police associates.

Among allegations Kinnear made in court was that Modack had claimed in a recorded private conversation that Vearey, together with a 27s gang boss known as Red, had arranged the November 2016 hit on lawyer Noorudien Hassen.

In Part 1 we noted that Hassan, like his close colleague advocate Pete Mihalik who was murdered in October 2018, had represented an array of underworld suspects.

AmaBhungane understands that Vearey is, or was, the subject of investigation in at least one of four dockets registered at the Cape Town central police station in May 2018 based on complaints lodged by two of Modack’s co-accused in the extortion case.

At one stage during the bail application Modack’s defence team alleged that Vearey had made a shooting motion at the accused while they had been in the holding cells.

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Vearey has weathered many claims in recent years, with a series of often dubious sources claiming to link him directly to gang bosses.

Speaking to amaBhungane, Vearey said there had been continuous attempts to discredit him. “This is not the first time this is happening.”

So who are the criminals and who are the cops?

No-one knows the contours of the gangs better than Vearey, nor the way in which organised criminals and his own comrades – politicians and policemen – have sought to profit from those shifting alliances.

No-one except, perhaps, Robert McBride.

  • Watch out for SAPS Wars Part 3: Bheki Cele, Robert McBride and the mysterious Mr Marimuthu.


Buyeleni Sibanyoni and Sam Sole

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