Not true: Gayton McKenzie, president of the Patriotic Front and mayor of Central Karoo District Municipality , denies his party is funded by gangsters and drug money linked to the late William ‘Red’ Stevens. Photo: Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Dudu Zitha
A voice recording of a senior Patriotic Alliance (PA) member has explicitly detailed how drug money and gangsters allegedly funded the party.
The Mail & Guardian has listened to a recording of Juwairiya Kaldine, a PA regional treasurer and City of Johannesburg councillor, who claimed Chinelle Stevens, the party’s secretary general and daughter of reputed Cape Town gangster and drug peddler William “Red” Stevens, took over her father’s criminal operations and funded the organisation with the spoils.
Red Stevens, a convicted criminal who the state said ran the 27s prison and street gang, was slain outside his Cape Town home in February 2021 while he was out on R100 000 bail, after being accused of killing the steroids dealer Brian Wainstein in 2017.
Moreover, party leader Gayton McKenzie involved himself in the trial of Johannesburg gangster Jermaine Prim — who is facing fraud charges for allegedly running a Mercedes-Benz theft racket from inside prison — by publicly claiming responsibility for the accused’s transfer from a medium-security to a maximum-security facility in what Prim told the M&G was “gang wars” in which the PA leader was involved.
The recording, played for the M&G by Prim’s family, is of a phone conversation between Kaldine and a prominent Eldorado Park, Soweto, leader whose name is known but will be withheld for safety reasons.
The Eldorado Park leader wanted to assist Prim in his ongoing row with McKenzie and other alleged Eldorado Park gangsters, who are allegedly owed money by the PA leader, the family added.
Prim’s mother Bridget said Kaldine knew her family from their involvement with the PA and from their neighbourhood.
Jermaine Prim, who spoke to the Mail & Guardian during his court appearances in 2022, said: “We funded the PA when it launched in Eldorado Park and Riverlea [in Johannesburg] and Gayton has not paid me or my family back.
“Now Juwairiya [Kaldine] has confirmed that Chinelle Stevens is giving Gayton drug money from her father’s operations.”
In the voice recording, Kaldine claims McKenzie knew Chinelle Stevens funded the PA with allegedly criminal money. The conversation took place in late 2022.
“Do you know that Chinelle Stevens’ father was one of the biggest drug lords here in Cape Town? Do you know that she is running her father’s business?” Kaldine asks.
The Eldorado Park leader, who sounds shocked, replies: “So, [is that] how they [the PA] are getting some of their money?”
Kaldine responds: “Obviously. And this is not things I’m talking about by hearsay — this is proof that I’m sitting with now in my hands.”
McKenzie, who said he would respond on behalf of the PA and Kaldine, confirmed the party was aware of the recording alleging criminal conduct but brushed it off as a doctored audio file. Kaldine also received questions from the M&G, but confirmed McKenzie spoke for her.
He added that he and Kenny Kunene, the party’s deputy president, were successful businessmen and had maintained their organisation since its inception in 2013 without using drug or gang money.
“Chinelle Stevens is the secretary general of the PA. She is from the Cape Flats and her dad and I [were] in jail and were both gangsters many years ago,” McKenzie said.
“Chinelle managed to evade that life and got herself educated and was a teacher and board chairperson before she assumed the role of secretary general.”
But Kaldine says in the recording that Chinelle Stevens took her to meet drug runners in Cape Town to get money for the PA, adding that she knew a lot about the party that could destroy it.
“I can finish them, I can fucking finish them. I’m dead serious. You know, I don’t [say] things that I don’t have proof of,” the PA treasurer says in the recording.
She adds that the party deducted money from the incomes of its public representatives as part of its funding process.
A source close to the PA, who asked to remain anonymous, said Kaldine had fallen out with McKenzie and the party leadership over the forced deductions from elected representatives, but that they had made up after the emergence of the recording.
The PA has positioned itself as a potential kingmaker after this year’s provincial and national elections, which are expected to be closely contested and could lead to coalition agreements being formed between various parties.
In the past week — as part of the organisation’s election strategy to focus on illegal immigration with its slogan “abahambe”, loosely translated to “they must leave” — McKenzie and other PA members wielding handguns and automatic rifles patrolled the border with Zimbabwe along the Limpopo River in what the party leader called a “war”.
Addressing President Cyril Ramaphosa in a video recorded at the river, McKenzie says the country is “naked” and open to illegal smuggling of dangerous goods. “People were literally standing there with boxes trying to bring that into South Africa. We did not know what was in there, that is why we decided we’re not leaving,” he said.
“People might bring in guns, people might bring in contraband, people might bring in dynamite for all that we know.”
In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise rebuked the PA for its activities, saying the army and the recently established Border Management Authority were the only entities legally mandated to guard the country’s entry points.
This week, McKenzie posted his defiance on social media, telling Modise that the PA would continue with its operations.
“We are aware [the Zimbabwean] government and the cigarette mafia is putting pressure for us to be arrested. You can arrest a few of us, Minister, [but] you will never be able to arrest all of us,” he emphasised.
“This country doesn’t belong to you but to South Africans and we will fight for South Africa.”
In the November 2021 local government elections, the PA emerged as the seventh-largest party, amassing 264 948 votes.
It sent dozens of candidates to councils across the country and formed part of various coalition agreements in municipalities such as Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni in Gauteng, as well as the Central Karoo district municipality in the Western Cape.
The coalition agreements resulted in the PA’s senior leaders being appointed to mayoral committees.
McKenzie served as Central Karoo’s mayor from April 2022 to May last year, while Kunene is Johannesburg’s mayoral committee member responsible for transport.
Kaldine claims in the recording the deductions from the PA’s elected representatives’ salaries was needed to fund the party’s war chest ahead of the polls.
“Gayton needs more than R1 million for [the] national elections. He doesn’t have money,” she says, adding that party representatives were forking out up to R25 000 a month from their government pay.
Kaldine says in the recording that as a councillor, she also has to pay money into her party’s account. She tells the Eldorado Park leader she was in arrears with her contributions and had received a threatening message from McKenzie for being on the list of people owing money to the PA.
McKenzie’s message, which Kaldine reads to the Eldorado Park leader, states: “This whole thing is going to turn out very bad for you, councillor. It’s not even about the money, it’s principle. I [was] personally very hurt when I saw your name.
“Don’t do this, don’t make excuses. We all help people and still pay what is required of us. Do what you think is right and let the party do what it thinks is right, leader.”
But Kaldine dismisses McKenzie’s claims that salary contributions to the party are not about money. “He says it is not about the money. It is about the money because they were supposed to employ people with [that] money. He is not employing anybody,” she said.
Speaking to the M&G, McKenzie accused Prim of fabricating the recorded phone conversation.
“In as far as councillor Juwairiya Kaldine is concerned, she denied that she ever uttered those words and maintained that her voice was altered in the recording.
“She even gave us evidence of how Jermaine Prim is behind bars for altering the voices of people,” McKenzie said.
“The party couldn’t find any evidence of her having uttered those words in the face of the history of Jermaine.”
Prim insisted he had not doctored any recordings, saying Kaldine and McKenzie were scapegoating him to hide the PA’s alleged dalliances with the criminal underworld.
“I took a plea bargain for the Abrahams charges I faced. You can clearly hear from the recording that it was a conversation between two people that I had nothing to do with.
“Juwairiya and Gayton are scared because you have caught them out and they want to blame me for taking drug money,” Prim stressed.
He spoke to the M&G late last year during a court appearance for allegedly running a complex scam from inside prison to steal luxury vehicles from unsuspecting owners.
In August 2018, Prim pleaded guilty to cloning former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams’ number and called on state advocates prosecuting his previous car theft cases to drop the charges.
The NPA, in its indictment, says that Prim cloned the phone number of Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s head office and pretended to be an official of the company.
Prim allegedly scoured social media sites for aggrieved owners who had vehicle troubles and were seemingly ignored by the car manufacturer. He would call them to offer assistance and then set up a meeting for his “runners” on the outside, who were dressed in Mercedes-Benz regalia, to pick up the cars.
Prim, who said he was innocent of the latest theft and fraud charges against him, accused McKenzie of orchestrating his November move from Johannesburg Prison, a medium-security facility, to Kgosi Mampuru, a maximum-security prison in Tshwane.
To support his allegations, Prim pointed to a video McKenzie released claiming responsibility for influencing the correctional services department to search Prim’s Johannesburg prison cell.
A cell phone was found by correctional services officials and used to move Prim — a non-violent, awaiting-trial inmate — to a maximum-security facility that houses convicted violent offenders, including the murderer and rapist Thabo Bester.
This week, the correctional services department spokesperson, Singabakho Nxumalo, did not answer why a non-violent awaiting-trial inmate was housed in a maximum-security prison.
Asked whether politicians could influence senior officers to raid prison cells, Nxumalo said his department received “information daily from different individuals or organisations”.
“When inmates conduct themselves against the standard procedures, corrective measures are to be taken which may result in them being reclassified and losing privileges. Critical here, there is a process to be followed and it has to be based on facts,” Nxumalo explained.
He added that the department took all the information it received seriously and checked whether the tip-offs were valid.
“As already stated, [the department] will not simply act on an issue raised without conducting its own investigation. At times, the information received does assist but there are moments where such becomes irrelevant,” the spokesperson said.
“When inmates have mobile phones in their possession, that is illegal and punishable. An inmate is charged and degraded following a disciplinary hearing.”
But the M&G has established that no hearing was held for Prim and his move to Kgosi Mampuru prison was applied for by prosecutor Richard Chabalala in November 2022 during a sitting at the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court.
At the time, Prim’s lawyer, Joe Strauss, objected to his client being moved, asserting that Kgosi Mampuru was for violent criminals.
“This accused is appearing in Palm Ridge court, which falls in the jurisdiction of the Johannesburg correctional service,” Strauss told magistrate Emmanuel Magampa, arguing for his client to be closer to his designated court.
Nxumalo this week denied that the correctional services department allowed itself to be influenced by politicians. “Any individual is welcomed to engage with DCS [department of correctional services] and such can never be deemed to be influencing DCS. The institution has competent staff members who are trained on how to process information being received.”
McKenzie, responding to Prim’s claims against him and Stevens, said the PA’s secretary general did not need drug money because she was getting a salary from the party.
“She is a church lady and connecting her to her father’s ex-gang life is very disingenuous. She has no criminal record and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“Jermaine, on the other hand, is currently sitting in jail,” he said.
The PA leader admitted to lobbying the department to search Prim.
“So, it is no secret that we played a major role in him being moved where he can be closely monitored.”
McKenzie said he and the PA abhorred substance abuse, calling himself “the biggest crusader against drug dealers in our communities”.
“Drug dealers recently offered a reward for my death because of the work I do against them.
“We deny everything coming out of the mouth of that master manipulator Jermaine Prim.”
The original version of this article stated that Juwairiya Kaldine is the PA’s national treasurer. She is in fact a regional treasurer. The error has been corrected, and is regretted.