Suspected underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack and co-accused Jacques Cronje were each granted R10 000 bail on Monday, after a magistrate found that the case presented against them was “extremely poor”.
Magistrate Syta Prinsloo granted the men bail in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg, where they face charges related to alleged attempted extortion at a Johannesburg nightclub.
Prinsloo lambasted the State and the investigating officer, and described the case they had presented against the men as “nonsensical”.
The two men were initially accused of extortion and intimidation, but the charge sheet was later amended to reflect a charge of attempted extortion instead.
It is the State’s case that Cronje called the owner of The Grand nightclub, Andrew Phillips, and tried to intimidate him into hiring his security services.
Prosecutor Yakes Chondree argued that Cronje then tried to extort half of Phillips’ business, worth R20m, by threatening to expose that Phillips was allegedly linked to the murder of Teazers boss Lolly Jackson.
The court heard that this was information which Cronje allegedly received from Czech criminal Radovan Krejcir.
Chondree also argued that Modack attempted to intimidate and extort Phillips by recruiting “muscle to take over”.
“They wanted a bigger piece of the pie.” he said.
Prinsloo quickly tested Chondree’s argument, by asking how the State could prove a link between Modack and Cronje.
“It’s nonsensical. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what the State means. Is it wrong to call someone? Is there any evidence linking Modack to extortion?” she asked.
Chondree responded that information could not yet be corroborated or confirmed and admitted that the State needed to investigate further.
But Modack’s lawyer, Johan Eksteen seized the opportunity. He charged that the only reason the two men were before the court was because of a pending case in Cape Town which, according to him, the State was going to lose.
For a detailed breakdown on what has been happening in the underworld nightclub security takeover, see News24’s showcase Underworld Unmasked
“When the State realised the wheels are falling off the cart in Cape Town, they ran to Johannesburg.”
In her ruling, Prinsloo also questioned why Phillips had waited until January to file charges against the two, in a matter that dates back in June 2017.
“From the complainant’s behaviour I cannot find that his life was in any danger.”
The accused appeared in court under heavy police guard.
Modack’s family and friends were in the courtroom while Cronje, who claims to have no ties to the City of Johannesburg, appeared to have no support. Modack communicated with his family during adjournments.
The two men seemed at ease with each other and often shared notes with their attorneys, Rooshdeen Rudolph and Eksteen.
When Prinsloo lambasted the State, Rudolph winked at Modack’s family.
The men are back in court on March 27.
In the Cape Town case, Modack and Cronje are accused of extortion, along with Carl Lakay, Ashley Fields and Colin Booysen – the brother of alleged Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome Booysen.
The charges relate to allegations of a nightclub security takeover. This group was arrested in Cape Town on December 15 and lodged a bail application shortly afterwards.
The court is expected to give its decision in the bail application on February 28.