Witness lifts lid on Modack’s alleged extortion threats

Jacques Cronje. Picturie: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Jacques Cronje. Picturie: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published May 7, 2024


Cape Town - A former client of top criminal lawyer, William Booth, has lifted the lid on extortion tactics allegedly used by the henchman of alleged underworld kingpin, Nafiz Modack.

The fearful witness, who fled to Dubai amid a string of incidents dating back to 2020, says he called Booth for help after Modack’s co-accused, Jacques Cronje, showed up at his home to demand payments allegedly owed to an affiliate of Modack.

Addressing the court as his testimony was live-streamed to the courtroom, the man, seen wearing a white salaah top and red turban, said he is an asset manager and came under attack from Cronje amid an investment dispute.

He says in 2018, he met with an investor known as “Shanil Maharaj”, who invested R545 000 in what was deemed a “high-risk investment”.

He claimed Maharaj had requested a strategy change, which resulted in a quick loss and he became angry.

The witness said Maharaj demanded he be paid his money back.

“He was banging on the desk and told me I turned his whole life upside down. I told him it was a high-risk investment signed by both parties and I also took a loss.”

He said Maharaj sent him a barrage of threatening messages and sent texts to relatives and friends labelling the witness as a thief.

Additionally, he warned that “Hell’s Angels” were coming to collect the money allegedly owed to him.

The witness said he later mentored a young man named “Imaad Modack”, who told him about a potential investor who wanted to meet him at the Crystal Towers Hotel, the same place where Modack was known to live.

On arrival, he said instead of meeting the investor only known as “Ziyaad”, Cronje and three others arrived and told him they were there to collect the R2.5 million owed to a man named “Namaste”.

The witness said Cronje had been taking instructions via a cellphone from a man only identified as “The Boss”.

Despite his denials that he owed that amount of money, the witness said he was forced to transfer R90 000 to a bank account provided by Cronje, and forced into an agreement to pay the other funds.

He later opened criminal cases after seeking legal advice from Booth and says stones were subsequently thrown at his home in Claremont and he was moved to a safe house.

He further testified that Cronje had sent him a string of threatening messages where they, among other things, threatened him with violence.

“You can have your meeting with the Pope. Please call your doctor to be on standby every day. John Wick is coming to say hello. Do the right thing,” one of the messages reads.

The witness also read out another message where he is seemingly threatened with rape.

The witness said after four days of extortion attempts he also applied for protection orders and later received a text warning him of a plan to kill his entire family.

He was also sent pictures of his in-laws, whom he was told would be killed first and a bounty of R200 000 offered to anyone willing to kill them.

The witness also read text messages which showed there was also an alleged bounty of R100 000 on his head if he had failed to pay.

“It was time for me and my family to pack my bags and leave town,” the witness said.

He further told the court he had been through a terrible time but had forgiven Cronje and Maharaj who texted him to ask for forgiveness.

Booth is expected to testify after his client. The trial continues