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Modack murder charge withdrawn, other charges added

Leading Cape Town underworld figure Nafiz Modack was in court on Monday on charges relating to the assassination attempt on criminal defence lawyer William Booth last year. However, the Hawks on Monday beat a hasty retreat from saying last week that Modack would be charged with murder for the killing of top Western Cape detective, Charl Kinnear.

Spokesperson for the elite crime-fighting unit, Colonel Katlego Mogale, told the Mail & Guardian that the murder charge had been withdrawn because “the case is under investigation.”

Modack, Jacques Cronjé — believed to be Modack’s right-hand man — and Ricardo Morgan made their first appearance on Monday at the Cape Town magistrate’s court on charges relating to multiple and separate incidents. 

Modack, Cronjé and first-time offender Morgan face charges of intimidation, kidnapping and extortion, contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Amendment Act and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (cellphone tracking). 

The charges relate to alleged intimidation and kidnappings that took place in March 2020 at the Crystal Towers Hotel, Century City in Cape Town.  

Modack has also been charged in a separate case for conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and contravening the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act. This relates to the attempted murder of Booth outside his home in Oranjezicht on 9 April last year. 

Hawks retract statement 

After the high-speed chase on Thursday that led to the arrest of Modack and three others, Modack landed himself further charges for attempted murder, reckless driving and resisting arrest. 

But another charge of murder against Modack, which was initially welcomed by Police Minister Bheki Cele, was withdrawn. 

After Modack’s arrest last week the Hawks said the arrests related to conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder of an advocate and murder of a police officer.

“This breakthrough must be congratulated, more so because we have always maintained that the murder of Kinnear was no random act, but a callous act that’s part of a conspiracy, which is being exposed by the work of the police. We also expect more arrests to follow,” Cele said on Thursday. 

But a new statement was released the next day — Friday 30 April — excluding the murder charge. The statement announced the arrest of co-accused Cronjé and Morgan after they handed themselves over to the police on Friday morning.  

Questioned about the retraction of the initial statement, Cele told media outside the court on Monday “there will be a charge, and that charge is coming for the murder of Lieutenant Kinnear. That is definitely ongoing.”  

It is widely alleged that Modack was involved in Kinnear’s murder. The anti-gang unit detective was assassinated outside his home in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, on 18 September last year. 

Zane Kilian remains the only suspect arrested for Kinnear’s murder; the case is currently running in the Bellville magistrate’s court in Cape Town. 

In a separate case, Modack will appear in the Bishop Lavis magistrate’s court on Tuesday 4 May for his alleged involvement in a hand-grenade incident outside Kinnear’s house in Bishop Lavis on 23 November 2019.

Hand-grenade case

In April, Modack was named during a court case relating to the hand-grenade incident. The Daily Maverick reports that state prosecutor Blaine Lazarus told the court that Modack ordered the hand-grenade hit on Kinnear. Lazarus mentioned that a meeting during which the hand-grenade plan was allegedly arranged was held on 14 November 2019.

It is believed Modack will appear together with three other suspects, including a 39-year-old member of the police, who was arrested over the weekend. 

Before court proceedings commenced on Monday the Hawks released a statement announcing the arrest of a 39-year-old member of the police attached to the tactical response team. 

The member of the police was arrested “on suspicion of the proliferation of information to unsavoury characters operating in the Western Cape underworld”, reads the statement. “It’s alleged that the suspect has between 2019 and 2020, [been] enticed by an underworld figure to infiltrate the anti-gang unit and supply them with information relating to operations of the underworld figure in return for gratification.”

Modack and his co-accused, Cronjé and Morgan, will be back in court on Friday 7 May. The accused remain in custody at the Bellville police station.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

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