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Judge rebukes cop for unlawful arrest setup

Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney strongly criticised a Durban police officer from the K9 unit for confessing to orchestrating the arrest of an asset manager at the behest of alleged gang leader Nafiz Modack.


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Warrant Officer Calvin Shunmugam, nicknamed ‘Calvin cop’ in Modack’s contacts, had just concluded cross-examination by Modack’s lawyer, advocate Bash Sibda. As Shunmugam prepared to leave, Judge Henney launched into a scathing rebuke lasting 15 minutes.

Henney questioned the officer’s involvement, remarking sharply, ‘Your duty is to locate bodies, explosives, drugs. What prompted you to attempt an arrest in Cape Town?’

Shunmugam explained that he attempted to involve Cape Town police in assisting investor Shanil Maharaj to recover R545 000 lost in an investment with an asset manager and witness referred to as Mr C. He noted that the case had been reported in Durban North, but Cape Town police showed little interest in pursuing it.

Henney countered, asserting that there was no record of these efforts in the case bundle. He condemned Shunmugam’s actions, declaring, ‘You acted without authority. Your actions are reprehensible. You contributed to an illegal arrest.’

The judge emphasised that not only did Shunmugam lack a warrant for Mr C’s arrest or official authorisation, but he also botched the operation by providing the Cape Town dog unit with the wrong case number, leading to Mr C’s unlawful arrest at the request of Modack.

Following his release, Mr C fled to Dubai with his family without repaying the money. Mr C testified that he never owed Maharaj any funds, having clearly outlined the investment risks to him. However, he briefly considered offering assistance out of goodwill.

Maharaj sought Modack’s help to reclaim his investment from Mr C, with Modack agreeing to intervene for a 20% cut. Modack’s associate, Jacques Cronje, allegedly intimidated Mr C into paying. Cronje faces charges of intimidation, extortion and kidnapping, leading to a protection order secured by Mr C’s lawyer, William Booth, against Cronje and Maharaj.

Additionally, Modack enlisted Shunmugam’s assistance in Maharaj’s theft complaint against Mr C, resulting in a long-distance operation by the K9 Unit raiding Mr C’s home. Shunmugam claimed acquaintance with Modack through Anwar Gallie, allegedly Modack’s right-hand man, whom he met through a mutual acquaintance at the gym.

Henney asked, ‘You had no power to assist Mr Modack. Do you agree with me?’

‘Yes, my Lord,’ responded Shunmugam.

By then, he was trying to stop his hands from shaking by steeping his fingers. 

Henney asked, ‘Did you report to your superiors that Nafiz Modack asked you to do a favour?’

Shunmugam replied, ‘No.’

Henney: ‘It seems like you tried to ingratiate yourself with Mr Modack to curry his favour, because of your admiration for him. Was that proper conduct? Was that lawful conduct?’

Shunmugam: ‘No, my Lord.’

Henney criticised Shunmugam for allegedly boasting about his ability to orchestrate Mr C’s arrest without a warrant. He stated firmly, ‘Looking back, all your actions were improper and illegal.’

Shunmugam concurred, acknowledging, ‘Yes, my Lord.’

Meanwhile, Advocate Sibda’s clarification that Modack did not name himself, Gallie, or his pet parrots Pablo and Gustavo after figures from the Medellin cartel, as claimed by Shunmugam, was overshadowed.

Sibda attributed this to Gallie’s fascination with the Netflix series Narcos, suggesting that Gallie, not Modack, was the one inspired by the show.

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Picture: Jaco Marais / Gallo Images



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