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Bouncers, bullies and crime syndicates: Report lifts lid on Cape Town’s extortion rings

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A recent report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime examines the four main “extortion economies” and how Cape Town has emerged as the epicentre of this growing pandemic.

Long Street, the most popular street in the Cape Town CBD because of the nightlife and night clubs. Picture: Phando Jikelo, Independent Newspapers

EXTORTION has become an enterprise across South Africa and most businesses are being held ransom by these extortion gangs.

In a report released by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) in April, the four main extortion economies – night-time extortion in the CBD, construction mafia, township and transport – were examined thoroughly and how Cape Town has emerged as the epicentre of this growing pandemic.

GI-TOC was established in 2013 and its vision is to mobilise a global strategic approach to tackling organised crime by strengthening political commitment to address the challenge, building the analytical evidence based on organised crime, disrupting criminal economies and developing networks of resilience in affected communities.

In its report, the organisation identified four main extortion economies: the central business district (CBD) night-time extortion economy, the construction mafia, the transport extortion economy, and the township enterprise extortion economy.

Extortion figure 1. Picture: GI-TOC

NIGHT-TIME EXTORTION

According to the report, this type of extortion rose to prominence in the Cape Town CBD in the late 1990s when underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka and his associates started targeting the nightlife industry.

Beeka and associates followed the classic model of extortion known as protection racketeering, in which criminal groups use violence and intimidation to demand payment from businesses for so-called protection and force businesses to make use of their affiliated private security companies.

In March 2011, Beeka was assassinated in a drive-by shooting by an unknown gunman on a motorcycle in Bellville and a new player rose to fame, Mark Lifman who sought to take over Beeka’s territory.

Slain underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka. Picture: Leon Muller, Independent Newspapers

Lifman, along with André Naudé, alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome ‘Donkie’ Booysen and his brother, Colin Booysen, merged Beeka’s two security companies with a security company operated by Naudé to form Specialised Protection Services (SPS) to oversee all club bouncers in Cape Town.

Extortion figure 2. Picture: GI-TOC

However, the new brotherhood was short-lived, in 2016 an altercation broke out between Colin and an individual at Coco Bar in Loop Street, Cape Town.

In court papers of a pending matter filed at the Western Cape High Court, Colin had complained his own brother had brought 27 gang members which included alleged gang boss William ‘Red’ Stevens, who was the cause of the problems.

This saw the brotherhood split and Colin opting to form relations with his old group’s now rival – Nafiz Modack.

Mark Lifman in court. Picture: Armand Hough, Independent Newspapers

Court documents further reveal that Modack and Colin started a hostile takeover of the clubs from Lifman and Donkie.

This rivalry has resulted in years of attempted murder plots.

Red, who was assassinated before he could go on trial, allegedly volunteered his men to take the clubs back by force.

Jerome ‘Donkie’ Booysen. Picture: Armand Hough, Independent Newspapers

In 2017, Modack, Colin, Ashley Fields, Jacques Cronje and Carl Lakay were arrested. They face eight charges of extortion and one charge of intimidation after they allegedly tried to extort R369,000 from The Grand Africa Cape and Beach near the V&A Waterfront.

The group were alleged to be behind a violent takeover of the nightclub security industry in Cape Town, forcing owners of clubs and restaurants to pay their company, TSG (The Security Group), for protection.

Colin Booysen. Picture: Leon Lestrade, Independent Newspapers

That amount was later reduced to R90,000.

Carl Lakay was murdered in August 2018, in the driveway of his Goodwood home.

However, in February 2020, the group was acquitted on all charges.

Nafiz Modack in court. Picture: Independent Newspapers

In December 2020, Lifman and Jerome Booysen were arrested and charged with the murder of international steroid smuggler Brian Wainstein.

They were also part of a group charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca). The alleged underworld kingpins have both pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In April 2021, Modack was arrested in connection with the murder of SAPS Anti-Gang Unit detective Charl Kinnear, who was gunned down outside his Bishop Lavis home in September 2020. He had been investigating a gun racket involving Modack and high-ranking police officers

Modack currently faces over 3,000 charges, including murder, attempted murder, extortion, intimidation, abduction, money laundering, fraud, racketeering, undermining the administration of justice, public violence, violation of the Poca, and the unlawful interception of communications.

The matter against both groups is currently being heard in the Western Cape High Court.

CONSTRUCTION MAFIA

The report said the rise of the construction mafia in Cape Town has been accompanied by extreme violence. Heavily armed groups intimidate contractors and disrupt and damage sites and further make good on their threats should their demands not be met.

By February 2023, 10 murders were linked to construction extortion. Eight people were further wounded during shooting incidents at construction sites and at least one of the murders are suspected to have been an assassination.

On April 23, 2024, two security guards were shot dead in Philippi, allegedly at the hands of the construction mafia, after they were escorting City of Cape Town staff to a site in Phola Park.

The scene where two security guards were shot in Philippi. Picture: Supplied

The report also mentioned the alleged leader of the 28s gang, Ralph Stanfield, and his wife Nicole Johnson.

The report stated Stanfield has allegedly developed his own brand of construction extortion and has seemingly become a prominent player in the extortion of infrastructure projects.

It said he became involved in the construction sector around 2015, sometime before the emergence of the construction mafia in Cape Town.

Nicole Johnson and Ralph Stanfield. Picture: Brendan Magaar, Independent Newspapers

The report said there were allegations that a network of companies linked to Stanfield and the 28s gang were involved in tendering for government contracts.

The City of Cape Town has blacklisted seven companies: Boon Group, Glomix, NJ Diesel, Globoon Joint Venture (comprising, among others, Glomix and Boon Group).

Boon Group and Boon Africa are owned by the same two directors. NJ Diesel Distributors is also a company owned by Stanfield’s wife, Nicole Johnson, according to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

Stanfield and his wife remain in custody since their arrest in September 2023. The charges include car theft, cellphone robbery, and fraud.

TRANSPORT EXTORTION

The City of Cape Town has three mother bodies: the Mitchells Plain Taxi Association, Cape Organisation for the Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA), and the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA).

Over the past few years, there has been violence among CATA and CODETA, resulting in major bloodshed across the Cape metropole.

Since 2020, several prominent taxi bosses and members of both associations have been assassinated.

A new brand of transport extortion

The report further stated that taxi associations throughout the country have been involved in the extortion of bus companies since the 2000s. It said this type of extortion escalated when Covid-19 hit around 2020, which resulted in lockdown, particularly on long-distance routes.

It said many people living in Cape Town have strong ties to the Eastern Cape, and many Cape Town taxi bosses thus have a vested interest in this route.

As a result, the bus company owners and drivers who operate on this route are prime targets for violence, intimidation and attempted extortion.

Coach carrier Intercape has taken the top cops including Police Minister Bheki Cele to court calling for them to take action to protect and prevent violence against long-distance coach passengers.

Long-distance bus company Intercape has filed an application to sue Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Intercape

TOWNSHIP EXTORTION

Extortion has always been a means of an income for gangs on the Cape Flats and according to the GI-TOC report, gangs lean on businesses in their territories forcing them to pay protection fees.

This is accompanied by a fixed fee which needs to be paid weekly, the amounts may be increased on the instruction of the gangs.

It revealed that extortion plays an important role in how gangs control their territory.

Cape Town has seen a surge in either kidnappings or shooting incidents involving shop owners on the Cape Flats and in the townships. Gangs send a message to those who want to defy them and those who think of defying them.

Yanga Endrey Nyalara. Picture: SAPS

Police in the Western Cape revealed its most wanted suspect, Yanga Endrey Nyalara, was implicated in several murders, attempted murders and extortion cases.

Nyalara was arrested on July 1, 2022, in Bothasig, Cape Town. He is currently behind bars and is awaiting trial for two extortion-related mass shootings in May 2021 and May 2022.

He faces 31 charges, including 18 counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, several counts of illegal possession of a firearm, and the illegal possession of ammunition. He is also charged with dealing in and possession of drugs and has been charged under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca).

Nyalara’s arrest came after a lengthy police hunt. Police offered a R100,000 reward for any information on his whereabouts.

Police in the Eastern Cape also sought Nyalara for a cash-in-transit heist in Libode.

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