'Kingpin’ trial delays: Case hamstrung by Modack’s Legal Aid struggles

Alleged underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Alleged underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack. Picture: Armand Hough / Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 17, 2024


Cape Town - The final assessments for legal representations for alleged underworld kingpin, Nafiz Modack, are set to be completed over the next week, the Western Cape High Court has heard.

This follows nearly two weeks of delays to get the much anticipated murder trial of slain Anti-Gang Unit detective Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear off the ground.

Modack and his younger brother, Yaseen, have been called to the Western Cape High Court twice in the past week, where Judge Robert Henney explained they want to begin with the mammoth underworld trial.

Proceedings became hamstrung when Modack lodged an appeal against the decision by Legal Aid South Africa. It was revealed that after passing the “means tests” which proved he did not have funding for a private lawyer, his application to Legal Aid was denied after he insisted they appoint counsel of his choice.

Legal Aid rejected this and Modack subsequently appealed this finding.

Judge Henney issued a court order instructing Legal Aid to deny his appeal, saying it had no prospect of success and that Modack was obligated to take the counsel given to him.

On Monday, Elroy Mc Helm, head of Legal Aid Cape Town, indicated that the matter had been expedited. He said based on Modack’s appeal, their committee had found there were elements he had not disclosed.

Mc Helm said Legal Aid was not the reason for the delays and instead that the entity could review the finances of applicants at any stage in a trial.

During proceedings yesterday, it was revealed that they had obtained the outstanding information and a final assessment and decision would be made soon after an urgent meeting had been called.

Advocate Russel Cloete informed the court that Legal Aid has already found legal representatives for Modack’s co-accused, including Zane Killian, Faghmie Kelly and Jacques Cronje.

Advocate Luzuko Guma, also formally withdrew from representing Yaseen after ensuring that another legal firm was able to take over the matter .

Guma, who also formerly represented alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield, told the court there was a conflict of interest and he was unable to represent Yaseen.

On Friday, he announced that the new legal team had been appointed and would be present at the trial on Monday.

“Free at last,” Guma said amid chuckles in the courtroom.

Nafiz’s mother and brother, Ruwaida and Yaseen Modack. Picture: ARMAND HOUGH/INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

During the first week, Judge Henney proceeded to allow the large group to plead to the charges to avoid further delays. As Modack was unrepresented he was only allowed to plead and not submit plea explanations but that didn’t prevent him revealing parts of his defence.

Modack shocked the court when he denied killing Kinnear and claimed the popular detective was killed by his own colleagues.

“I never killed Kinnear, the police killed him,” he said, despite warning by Judge Henney to desist from speaking further.

Modack, along with former rugby player, Killian, and several others face a slew of charges in the underworld trial centred on Kinnear’s murder.

According to the State’s case, the group of 15 accused are members of the Nafiz Modack Enterprise and now face over 100 charges. These include murder, attempted murder, public violence, racketeering and money laundering among others.

Kinnear was shot and killed on September 18, 2020, while sitting in his car outside his Bishop Lavis home. A week after the assassination, pictures of the shooting were shared on social media, raising questions as the public highlighted the shooter did not match the muscular build of Kilian. He was the first arrested on murder charges.

The pictures, seemingly taken from the CCTV footage, showed a skinny masked man pulling the trigger.

During court proceedings, Killian also took a stab at the State’s case against him saying: “Where is the shooter? Because if I understand correctly in the other murder charges the shooter is clearly identified.”

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