Cape Town – A photograph of suspected underworld boss Nafiz Modack, who is accused of extorting several nightclub owners as part of a forceful security takeover, and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, has raised questions about the proximity of the country’s first family to Modack’s cabal.
News24 understands the photograph, which we publish today, showing the two men sitting at a table and smiling, was taken in a Cape Town hotel in mid-October.
This was months after Modack was named in several media reports as heading a group of men taking over nightclub security, mainly in Cape Town, from a more established grouping.
The takeover resulted in violence, including several shootings.
Duduzane and Modack were photographed together about a month after Modack, in an exclusive interview with News24 in September, spoke about how he had apparently received more than 50 death threats up until then in 2017 due to his links to private security.
Duduzane is central to a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, led by Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo, that was announced by President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday.
Duduzane is suspected of being the Zuma family’s proxy in the Gupta family’s business network, that benefits from massive spending by state-owned enterprises.
In the September interview, Modack acknowledged knowing Duduzane and said he “looked after” him when he was in Cape Town.
Modack, during that interview, denied he was an informant for the state as many sources have insisted he is.
Duduzane did not respond to a News24 query sent to him via email on Monday. He also did not reply to messages sent to a cellphone number provided and identified as his.
After several rings, a man answered the cellphone on Tuesday, but could not seem to hear what was being said to him. The phone was not answered afterwards.
Modack previously confirmed knowing Duduzane and said during the September interview that, aside from nightclub security, he was involved in several private security companies and debt collection.
Modack’s alleged links ‘from the top down’
He said he worked with several wealthy international clients, “foreigners and big investors”, and provided security to “people right from the top down”.
Modack had not denied working for politicians.
“You get a lot of government officials in business,” he had said.
Modack has been in custody since December 15, the day on which he was arrested on an extortion charge in relation to the nightclub security takeover.
The photograph of him and Duduzane was sent to News24 outside and independently of these court proceedings.
Duduzane’s other controversial dealings
Of all the president’s children, Duduzane has been in the spotlight the most.
In August last year he defended his business relations with the Gupta-family.
“I don’t think they wanted anything from me. They liked me. As I liked them. I think I’m a likeable guy,” he had said, speaking with BBC World News in an interview for Focus on Africa.
Video: Zuma’s son speaks on Gupta scandal (Supplied by BBC)
Earlier in August complaints of treason, extortion, racketeering, fraud and forgery were lodged against three Gupta brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta – and Duduzane by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). This was at the Randburg police station.
An affidavit in the matter alleged Zuma, since becoming president in 2009, improperly used his influence to help the Gupta brothers in placing those accepting of the Guptas in crucial positions.
Duduzane, it was alleged, had been sent their CVs.
Last week, in the Modack matter, alleged links between Modack and senior police and government officials were detailed in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court during his bail application.
Modack is accused alongside Colin Booysen – the brother of alleged Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome Booysen, Jacques Cronje, Ashley Fields, and Carl Lakay. They face extortion charges relating to nightclub security.
For a detailed breakdown on what has been happening in the underworld nightclub security takeover, see News24’s showcase Underworld Unmasked
During Modack’s bail application last week, Charl Kinnear, a police officer investigating fights in clubs around Cape Town, had testified about Modack’s apparent “influence”.
He testified that Modack had recorded several conversations he had with various people.
This included a conversation between Modack and a man in Serbia, who Kinnear said had provided information used in author Jacques Pauw’s critically acclaimed book The President’s Keepers.
Pauw’s book lifted the lid on alleged shady dealings Zuma was involved in.
Kinnear testified that Modack’s contact with the man in Serbia showed “the relationships the accused has with people in the South African government”.
Other shocking claims emerged in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court last week.
Kinnear detailed claims that Modack wanted rival businessmen, including Mark Lifman and Jerome Booysen, murdered.
Other claims involved the alleged involvement of senior police officials with Modack.
These claims were also apparently based on recordings of conversations between Modack and others.
Kinnear had testified that there was a recording of Modack in a meeting with Major-General Jeremy Vearey and Russell Christopher, a former State Security Agency official who trained with Vearey in the ANC’s intelligence structures prior to 1994.
The meeting happened in May 2017.
Kinnear said Modack had stated “he was dealing with high-ranking police officials and, should there ever be a problem, Tiyo and Mbotho can sort it out”.
He was referring to Major-General Mzwandile Tiyo, the Western Cape’s head of crime intelligence, and Major-General Patrick Mbotho, a provincial head of detectives.
Kinnear had also referred to a meeting Modack had at the One and Only hotel with Northern Cape police commissioner Risimati Shivuri.