Tuesday 18 November 2014

Mark Lifman in "Cape Town’s underworld"

The Institute for Security Studies has done some research titled "Cape Town's underworld: Mapping a protection racket in the central business district" which we would like to quote here:

Specialised Protection Services

Shortly after Beeka’s death companies and networks were amalgamated that had previously been rivals and had been operating in various forms for decades. Former Beeka allies such as Jacques Cronje, some former ‘Maroccans’, including Housain Ait Taleb, and former rivals such as Andre Naude headed the security company. The company SPS (represented with the code PRBUSPS), was supposedly under the leadership of businessman Mark Lifman (code BUML), an infamous property developer, and was allegedly supported by the Booysen brothers, who were allegedly the leaders of a Cape Flats street gang known as the ‘Sexy Boys’. The development of this company was accompanied by serious threats and extortion as it muscled its way into the city’s security system.

The company was shut down a few months after its establishment because it did not register correctly with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, and Lifman and Naude faced 300 charges related to its illegal operation. However, payments (i.e. extortion) still continued, according to fieldwork interviews. The growth of SPS and its impact in the city centre led to large number of reports primarily published by Independent Newspapers that investigated the links among the various groups and the historical links with Beeka.

Two of the most notorious nodes associated with SPS were Mark Lifman and Jerome Booysen, the alleged backers of the company. It is believed that Lifman sought to take over Beeka’s operation in the Cape Town CBD after the latter’s death. Having already invested heavily in both property and entertainment venues in the CBD, it is thought that Lifman saw himself as the new ‘controller’ of the CBD, and the security racket that Beeka ran was extremely lucrative.

Lifman occupies a peculiar role as he is not part of any traditional criminal ‘gang’ and is instead a highly networked actor with links to high-ranking individuals who operate in both the criminal and legitimate business and entertainment sectors. Lifman has a vast business portfolio and owns a number of properties in the city and CBD, as well as a number of clubs and bars. His business interests also include several fashion labels, and he was recently reported to be interested in investing in the manufacturing of ‘cheap white’ cigarettes. He had also been involved in the horse-racing industry, before being banned by the Jockey Club after intimidating and assaulting a jockey with Yuri Ulianitski.

Lifman has a mutually beneficial relationship with Jerome Booysen and his brother Colin. Up to 2006 Jerome had been a city employee for 20 years and made a significant fortune with Lifman in property development, particularly in the suburb of Belhar, where the Sexy Boys operate. His previous position in the city administration was in the housing department, and although this was seen as a legitimate job, his family maintained violent and ruthless control of Belhar and he was accused of murder three times. His brother Michael, who as of January 2014 was serving a life sentence for murder, was seen as the previous leader of the gang and was suspected of being involved in over 50 murders during a bloody gang war when the brothers wanted to leave CORE, which was an agreement among various gang leaders drawn up in 1998. Jerome had previously held the position of CORE vice president, suggesting he was highly placed in the criminal hierarchy while in his position in the city housing department.

Booysen is widely regarded as the head of a violent gang and his support of Lifman allegedly enabled Lifman to try to ll the power vacuum created by Beeka’s death without using much violence. Jerome Booysen has recently come under further suspicion of organised crime because properties in his name have been used as drug laboratories. In the community of Belhar he is both notorious and feared. He is the head of the Belhar Rugby Club and has played a prominent role in the community.

What is noticeable about this particular group is that it is heavily invested in an array of businesses that provide for those involved, quite apart from being potential cover for laundering the proceeds of crime. While Booysen’s gang has also arguably taken on a ‘criminal governance’ role in the Belhar region, its potential to commit acts of violence has had an impact outside the geographic region where it is most involved.

When the speculation around SPS took place, Lifman and Booysen were also able to arrange a meeting with a former executive mayor of Cape Town and the current MEC responsible for community safety, Dan Plato. It is also known that Plato has on numerous occasions met with Booysen in Belhar, given Booysen’s influence in the area. This does not suggest a corrupt relationship, but rather illustrates the potential reach of Booysen’s social network into the political realm, and the social and economic influence actors like him wield