Story-ideas-1011172

Clubbing underworld affecting Jewish jollers

  • SafetyAtNight
For young Jewish adults, going out on the jol in Cape Town is becoming a dangerous gamble, as they could find themselves caught in the crossfire of an underworld turf battle over club security.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | May 24, 2018

In April 2017, a shooting at Cafe Caprice in Cape Town left two people wounded, while in May of that year a woman was injured in a shooting in Loop Street. In October, two patrons of Stellenbosch club Cubana were shot and killed, and a bouncer was stabbed to death in Green Point in December.

It appears the violence could continue, as explained by a security expert, who asked to remain anonymous: “Whoever controls the door controls the industry. And what is the industry? Narcotics.”

An actuarial science student, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his safety, had just left Caprice on the evening of the shooting there, and many of his friends witnessed it. “They were traumatised and refused to go out for a long time,” he recalls. “They still choose not to return to Caprice.”

He adds that even those friends who did not witness the shooting chose not to go to Caprice. In addition, he and his friends would avoid walking on Long Street at night and avoid certain clubs there, known for turf war violence. He feels that clubs in Claremont are safer.

“When the underworld scene first came to light, we became more cautious. There was a new sense of insecurity,” says a Business Science student at the University of Cape Town, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety.

“When shootings first occurred, it was obviously scary to know that there are men carrying guns where you are out just trying to have a good time,” continues the student.

This has not stopped her and her friends from going out, as they realised it had been flaring on and off for many years. “All clubs have bouncers and all bouncers are involved in war over territory,” she explains.

“The gangs are interested in rival gangs, not in young adults going to have a jol. Technically, their job is still to keep the club safe. However, obviously, if there is a turf war going on, there is a chance that clubbers can get caught in the crossfire,” she adds.

For Jewish parents who are concerned, the student has good news. She feels that generally it is safe, “and if your children have a phone and are with friends, and you know where they are, they will most likely be safe. They will be going to the same place as everyone else.

“As long as the person clubbing understands these dangers, there is nothing that makes it more unsafe for them than for another person.”

She adds that she does not see law enforcement dealing with crime in clubs: “I believe there is a fine line between where the police get involved and where the bouncers have control. The police will be around in case of emergencies, or to conduct law enforcement outside the club.

Underworld violence started surging in Cape Town late last year, when a new group of men, said to be headed by notorious businessman Nafiz Modack, began taking control of nightclub security from a more established grouping, headed by Mark Lifman. And it appears that after a period of quiet, this violence could spread to Gauteng.

“Police believe that Modack is behind a new faction that is trying to take control of nightclub security in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, and is accused of running an extortion racket,” reported Mandy Wiener for Eyewitness News.

To the SA Jewish Report, she says that Cape Town’s turf war is in an “uneasy truce” at the moment, but she “suspects it is going to get worse again soon. Both Modack and Lifman have been calling each other out in the media, and I don’t think it’s going to end quietly”, she says.

In her new book, Ministry of Crime, about this topic, Modack tells Wiener that he is “co-operating with the police to clean up the city: ‘That’s my duty as a South African citizen and that is what I’ve done.’”

Later in the exchange, Wiener reports: “Modack wants the residents of Cape Town to know that he and his men are not violent. They are there to bring peace and stability to the nightclub scene and to remove drugs from the clubs. He wants to assure everyone that the clubs are safe.

‘We’ve cleaned up town so all the gangs are out of Cape Town. People who go there to enjoy themselves can be sure that they’re not going to get hurt or shot. It’s safe to go there. The media are saying we are causing havoc; it’s not like that. Cape Town is safe now.’”

A DJ who spends four or five evenings working in Cape Town clubs said that from his perspective, larger security companies are intimidating smaller companies to gain a monopoly on club security.

However, he notes that the violence has calmed down over the last six months and he has not seen a decrease in Jewish jollers or a rise in concerns about safety.

Turf wars over clubs, drugs and security used to be a feature of clubbing in Johannesburg, which saw civilians like Bradley Silberman being gravely injured. In November 2004, he was attacked and beaten within an inch of his life by bouncers at the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Rivonia. He was 22 years old, a Unisa student who was celebrating the end of his exams. At the time, the club denied that its bouncers had carried out the attack. Miraculously, he recovered fully.

Also in 2004, bouncer Mike Bolhuis helped police investigate the security network of bouncers at clubs in Johannesburg and Pretoria, and told IOL News that “bouncers started getting into serious steroid use, drugs and alcohol abuse, and are now caught up in territorial drug trafficking”.

Added Bolhuis: “The main guys at the door – moonlighting policemen included – are not just providing security at a club, but also protecting bigger business interests linked to drug syndicates and the like.”

It now appears that Modack is exploring Gauteng. In February, he allegedly threatened to burn down Sandton club The Grand after the owner refused his security services.

The manager of the establishment opened a criminal case and Modack was arrested with Jacques Cronje, who is allegedly pivotal to a syndicate that “intimidates” club owners into accepting protection from their security group. However, charges were withdrawn in May because of an apparent lack of evidence against the two men.

Sergeant Edward Edwardes, who is involved in police investigations of the underworld, testified at the end of last year that some “security industry players were forcing club owners to pay them, and pushing their security services on establishments”.

He said the owners were afraid to lodge complaints and that inspectors with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority “fear for their lives if they take on certain security companies”. Edwardes also testified that in some underworld cases, witnesses had disappeared.

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