South Africa: Nafiz Modack, Mark Lifman and the Spread of Protection Gangs From Cape Town's CBD to Khayelitsha

Cape Town skyline (file photo).
analysis

The arrest of alleged Cape Town crime boss Nafiz Modack and three others in connection with the murder of Anti-Gang Unit section commander Charl Kinnear, the attempted murder of criminal lawyer William Booth and counts of extortion, kidnapping and intimidation, has shone a spotlight on the notorious 'Modack group' and a surge in extortion rackets in the city and its expansion into Khayelitsha and other townships.

As is common in most large cities, Cape Town's bars, clubs and restaurants tend to attract both licit and illicit private security operators, some inextricably linked to gangs and criminal networks.

Criminal groups attach themselves to such areas under the guise of providing security because the industry provides lucrative spin-offs involving drugs, prostitution and extortion. This has happened in Cape Town for decades. Owners of establishments have been threatened or pressurised by operators, who purport to provide security, into paying monthly protection fees. That is extortion. The threats need not be direct. More subtle ones suffice to make it extortion, such as making it known that normal operations of their establishments could be disrupted if they don't take up their "offer" of providing security. But why the sudden surge in extortion in 2020?

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