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The owner of Observatory nightclub Barmooda, that was petrol bombed a few days ago, says he has no idea why his establishment was targeted or why anyone would attack it.
On Sunday night an emotional Reon Heckrath said that for a long time Observatory residents had been threatening to close down his nightclub, for reasons including noise levels.
“But they said that to all the clubs... I don’t know who did it. I want to blame everyone, everyone that’s said something bad about Barmooda,” he said.
According to police, two gunmen entered Barmooda early on Friday, and after tying together the hands of four cleaners, whom they robbed of cellphones and personal belongings, they then threw petrol bombs into the club.
This resulted in a fire that gutted the premises.
On Sunday night Heckrath recalled that when he reached the scene, he lay in the wet road and wept.
He was unable to say whether he would be able to re-open his club.
He said Barmooda had always been the subject of malicious rumours about drugs and gangsterism and the rumours had picked up since the bombing.
“I could never have been a gangster. I went to school, went to work in a bank, then opened Barmooda. I don’t have the time to be a gangster... I am the victim here and no one cares.”
Heckrath confirmed he had been friends with Raqeeb “Ricky” Oaker, a suspected Junior Mafia gang member, shot close to Barmooda in January 2008 while apparently delivering a television set to the club.
The TV had not been stolen, leaving police to question the motive for the shooting.
On Sunday night Heckrath denied Oaker was a gang member.
“He didn’t even finish school. He was a fisherman and then got into the entertainment industry.
“When I opened Barmooda I couldn’t afford everything, so I hired sound and lighting from Ricky. He was married to a woman whose brother was a bad man,” Heckrath said, referring to Mujahid Daniels, a suspected Junior Mafia gang kingpin shot dead in Pinelands 2008.
Heckrath said he constructed Barmooda from scratch, bringing in architects and structural engineers and using money left to him after his father’s death.
“There was literally nothing. Barely even four walls,” He said.
Heckrath was devastated by the way some people had expressed happiness after hearing Barmooda had been targeted.
“I’ve sacrificed so much to keep the place going,” he said.
On Sunday police spokesman Frederick Van Wyk was reluctant to divulge details about the petrol bombing, saying the investigation was at a sensitive stage.
He said the motive for the attack was being investigated and officers had managed to trace the vehicle allegedly used in the petrol bombing to Maitland.
The vehicle had apparently been stolen in Milnerton.
Asked if the petrol bombing could be gang related or linked to the 2008 shooting in which Oaker was wounded, Van Wyk responded: “All of these allegations will be looked at and form part of our overall investigation.”
On Sunday a source with links to the club industry told the Cape Times that for years Barmooda’s employees had dealings with the Junior Mafia members that had led to tensions.
On Sunday night Heckrath denied this.
On the Facebook wall “Barmooda Cape Town,” a number of the club’s patrons questioned who was behind the petrol bombing.
“Who is causing all this havoc for Reon? wonder what satisfaction they getting out of it… Be strong guy,” (sic) one Facebook user wrote.
Another replied: “spitefulness, but knowing Reons character im sure he will bounce back bigger and better for sure…” (sic)