I visited my enemy’s enemy, says witness in Cape gang extortion case
Café manager admits he sought help from Mark Lifman after telling police about a R90,000 extortion payment to a rival
When the brand manager for Grand Café Africa was made an offer he couldn’t refuse, he went to alleged underworld boss Mark Lifman for protection.
Radley Dijkers, the state’s first witness in the extortion trial of Nafiz Modack and three associates, told the Cape Town Regional Court that he visited Lifman’s house shortly after Modack was arrested in December 2017.
Although Dijkers is a witness, he is also considered a suspect because he has implicated himself in wrongdoing.
He said that although he felt “very uncomfortable” about visiting Lifman’s house, he did so because he felt scared for his and his family’s safety. This was after he made statements to the police regarding R90,000 in alleged extortion money he paid to Modack’s security company, TSG, in cash.
He claims Lifman contacted him on WhatsApp after he “reached out” to him through events organiser Raymond Bloom.
Asked by the prosecutor why he reached out to Lifman and not the police, he said: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I knew that he and the accused were fighting for security in Cape Town and had been for a long time.”
The courtroom was filled with bodyguards, lawyers, associates of the accused, and heavily armed police officers. Outside, a large contingent of bodyguards carrying assault rifles waited in vehicles for their clients.
They were matched by a large contingent of police dressed in combat gear, some carrying assault rifles, who waited in the corridors of the courthouse for Dijkers to finish his testimony.
Modack smiled at Dijker’s revelations, which seemed to confirm the instructions that he gave his counsel, advocate Dirk Uys.
Modack has been on trial alongside Colin Booysen, Ashley Fields, Jacques Cronjé and the now deceased Carl Lakay since October 2018. The case was postponed after two days of testimony, and a theatrics-filled third day when anti-gang unit commander André Lincoln was reprimanded by the magistrate for interrupting the proceedings to arrest Booysen.
Lincoln was present in court again on Monday, sitting in the back of the court – in the same row as a small contingent of Modack’s bodyguards.
According to the state, Modack and his co-accused form part of an extortion racket which has been fighting with a group controlled by Lifman, Jerome “Donkie” Booysen and Andre Naude.
Dijkers was contacted by Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear – who had the rank of captain at the time – who asked him to make a statement about the R90,000 off-the-books payment that he made, allegedly on instruction by Booysen, before a large event on November 4 2017.
The payment would eventually be reflected on a quote which was requested by the Grand Café from TSG.
According Sunday Times reports written during the bail hearing in early 2018, which quoted nightclub owners, the spoils of what has been called a “turf war” over control of Cape Town’s lucrative nightclub security industry are the perks of controlling the traffic coming through the front and back doors, and the payment by owners for “security” and bouncers.
Dijkers said that during his visit to Lifman’s house he sat in the lounge and asked him whether he knew of anyone who he could trust to provide protection for him and his family.
He said Lifman gave him information on who to contact, and that he did acquire the services of the people mentioned by Lifman, although he would not say who it was.
While Dijkers explained what had transpired, resulting in the arrests of the accused, police from the Cape Town “gang unit” arrived at the house, led by Captain Sharon Japhta.
Dijkers said they came to take a statement from Lifman and that he left the room to have a smoke. After this Dijkers was taken back the Grande Café by Lifman’s driver.
The prosecutor then asked Dijkers whether he knew Naudé, to which he replied that he did. He met him in 2016 and had lunch with him.
He then asked whether he knew “Donkie”, Booysen’s older brother and arch rival and also the alleged leader of the Sexy Boys gang whose members, including another of the Booysen brothers, Michael, have been found guilty on several counts of murder and attempted murder.
Dijkers revealed that he met Donkie in a “small coffee shop in Sea Point” along with Naudé and Grand Café Africa general manager Bruce Maxwell, a revelation that brought the court to a halt.
He said the meeting took place after he testified in October 2018 and was called to discuss the takeover of security by Naudé.
He said that, at the time, TSG was still doing security for the Grand Café, but that after the meeting, Extreme Measures, a security company owned by Tim Lotter, took over from them.
He said he was not in favour of going to the meeting.“I did not want to attend the meeting. I did not want Andre Naudé to take over the security of The Grand,” said Dijkers.Uys told the court that although he had been briefed by Modack about the allegations before the proceedings, he did not deem them relevant to the case.“Some of what I’ve heard today has not surprised me. But, up until now I’ve regarded much of my instructions as not relevant to the case at this stage. It’s become clear that it is relevant,” said Uys before requesting a postponement to be briefed on the new allegations.The case is expected to continue on Tuesday.