Cape Town – The arrest of a key security industry insider for cocaine dealing is the work of rival underworld players who conspired with others including an investigator to set him up, sources insist.
Jacques Cronje, who was previously involved in an illegally operating bouncer company, and who has had run-ins with the law before, was arrested in the city centre on Sunday morning after about 22 packets of cocaine were discovered in the vehicle he was driving.
He appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said he was charged with drug possession.
However, a court document listing cases, seen by News24, said he appeared for drug dealing.
Six sources, with ties to the underworld and police matters, have told News24 that Cronje may have been set up and that the cocaine could have been planted.
Four of the sources have pointed the finger at members of a rival underworld faction who they believe are intent on tripping up Cronje and those associated with him.
News24 understands that Cronje had given a lift to another underworld figure, who is from the Ukraine and also involved in the nightclub security industry, before the drugs were found.
Sources say this man had been wearing gloves while Cronje transported him and may have been the one to plant the cocaine sachets.
Bruce Hendricks, of Hassen-Harme Attorneys who is representing Cronje, confirmed to News24 on Tuesday that his client’s defence was that he was set up.
He did not go into detail about this.
Cronje was arrested in the midst of an intensifying underworld battle related to the club security industry in the Western Cape.
A newer underworld faction, said to be headed by businessman Nafiz Modack, has been taking over security at nightclubs from an older underworld faction.
This older faction is now said to be striking back.
The new faction, according to an informant linked to this grouping, is intent on ridding the city centre of drugs.
Cronje is affiliated to Modack and his arrest therefore flies in the face of what the new faction allegedly stands for.
The sources say if the drugs were indeed planted with Cronje, this was therefore a masterful act as it targets the very issue the new faction claims to be tackling.
A man, who said he is a private investigator and who goes by the name Shaun Herman, told News24 via SMS late on Monday that he was probing the drug bust.
His identity could not be confirmed.
The unconfirmed information he provided was corroborated by other sources.
Herman said the setup had been organised last week and had involved two businessmen and apparently a police officer.
It was allegedly agreed that the underworld player from the Ukraine would ask Cronje for a lift to sneak the drugs into the vehicle.
This man denied involvement in the matter and declined to comment on the record as he said he was not part of what had happened.
Herman claimed the Ukrainian businessman had worn gloves in the vehicle Cronje was driving on Sunday and that about five minutes after getting out of it, police stopped the car and searched it.
One of the officers, he said, was not meant to be working that day.
Herman said officers went “direct whr an envolpe (sic)” was in the vehicle and in which the cocaine was concealed.
He said former members of the now-defunct Scorpions had been tasked to probe the matter.
Herman said he was part of this investigation.
Cronje was apparently employed as a private security guard to protect a specific person.
This person’s identity has not been made clear.
Police confiscated firearms from Cronje and several other men who had gathered outside a popular city centre strip club in April.
In a notice of motion filed in the Western Cape High Court in May, relating to the seized weapons, Mark Visser of Eagle VIP Security said he and Cronje, an employee, had been there on the night of April 21 to provide protection to private clients, who he did not name.
Cronje, according to an affidavit, had a Canik 55 9mm parabellum, licenced to Eagle VIP Security, concealed on his wrist.
Firearms and shootings
The seized firearms – three shotguns, three Taurus pistols, a 9mm Browning and two 9mm Caniks – were tested for links to a shooting in which two men were wounded in Café Caprice on April 17.
These were later returned to the men.
Cronje has been involved in club security for years.
Years ago, underworld kingpin Cyril Beeka, who was killed in 2011, ran the company Pro Security along with Cronje.
Cronje was also involved in the bouncer company Specialised Protection Services, which was run by, among others, controversial businessmen Andre Naude and Mark Lifman.
But it was soon shut down as it was not registered with Psira.
Cronje later fell out with his SPS associates as he faced allegations of misappropriating company money, assault, and missing meetings.
The latest ructions in the underworld have resulted in several shootings.
At least three people have been shot in Cape Town establishments since April.
Several killings have also been linked to it.