Farcical scenes as magistrate tears strip off cops
Police disrupt Booysen extortion hearing with an arrest warrant, which forced proceedings to be postponed
The commander of Cape Town’s brand new anti-gang unit was scolded in court on Wednesday for disrupting an extortion case that has become the front line in the battle for the underworld.
Maj-Gen Andre Lincoln stood clutching his police cap in the witness stand in the Cape Town Regional Court as magistrate Bruce Pedro angrily reprimanded him.
“To come to this court at 12pm with an arrest warrant is not assisting my case. There is a time and a place. This is a court of law; we arranged this trial many months ago,” said Pedro.
To Lincoln’s left was Colin Booysen, an alleged extortion racket boss for whom he had an arrest warrant for contravening his bail conditions in a murder case.
Pedro said Lincoln’s unit’s arrival was an “abuse” of court proceedings.
“If this is the way the police conducts their business ... They need to be schooled,” said Pedro.
While Booysen sat in the dock, outside court his bodyguards were stripped of their firearms, bulletproof vests and communications equipment before being taken into custody.
His bodyguards too had warrants of arrest out against them for contravening bail conditions that stated they needed to check in to their nearest police station on Monday.
Lincoln responded by blaming his officers, saying he would “deal with the members who made the arrest”.
But prosecutor Mervin Menigo told the court: “I spoke with [Lincoln] in the hallway outside now and tried to impart my wisdom in asking him if they couldn’t affect the arrest tomorrow and he insisted that they do it today. “I expect they knew that their actions would have exactly this consequence,” said Menigo.
He added that the warrant had been granted in Bellville that morning.
The police’s timing could not have been worse – or some would say better. Before the fiasco, which resulted in proceedings being postponed until April next year, the state’s key witness, Radley Dijkers, started testifying as a co-accused after he implicated himself in the extortion case against Booysen, Nafiz Modack, Ashley Fields and Jacques Cronje.
Dijkers’ testimony about extortion, money laundering, fraud and rendering a security service without being registered properly, exposed an incomplete police investigation.
And not only that – as a state witness Dijkers also began to implicate several other people, including a shareholder of Harbour House Group. This shareholder has not been arrested by the police.
Dijkers testified about the police investigation into the alleged extortion activities at the Grand Cafe Africa where he was a brand manager on behalf of Harbour House Group.
Dijkers revealed that Modack, Cronje and Booysen allegedly extorted the Grand Cafe Africa in the V&A Waterfront and that he “had no choice” when it came to accepting Modack’s “security service”.
But proceedings were disrupted before the court could hear further evidence.
As gang unit members entered the courtroom and filled up the hallways, an irate Booysen removed a white bulletproof vest he was wearing while sitting in a hot courtroom with broken air-conditioning.
He also dismissed his attorney, Bruce Hendricks, after he was led away in the back of a police van in the middle of a convoy of anti-gang unit vehicles.
Hendricks had taken over from slain criminal advocate Pete Mihalik after the investigating officer in the case, Lieutenant Colonel Charl Kinnear, alleged that he was involved in Modack and Booysen’s criminal dealings.
Mihalik was killed in a hit outside his child’s school in Green Point last month.
During the bail hearing, defence and state testimonies revealed an undercurrent of police politics and corruption in the Western Cape.