A BRITS businessman fears for his life after what appeared to be an attempt to kill him and two friends.
Police believe the motive for the attack on businessman Naeem Cassim on Saturday was robbery. The three friends had left Silverstar Casino with their winnings when they were attacked.
But Cassim and forensic expert Paul O’Sullivan believe that the attempt, which involved a high-speed car chase and gunfight, was a hit stemming from a financial dispute more than a year in the making.
Cassim claimed to have loaned around R38 000 worth of goods to fellow businessman Hanif Mohamed last year, but several months later, things turned ugly between them.
Saturday’s incident was the second attempt on Cassim’s life in the past six months. He said he believed the “hit” was caused by his attempts to reclaim his money and an insult he had sent to Hanif’s father after a heated verbal exchange.
Cassim’s statement to police said the men left in a white Mercedes-Benz C200, travelling towards Brits, past Hartbeespoort, after he had won several thousand rand at the casino.
Three cars, two VW Golfs and a Mercedes-Benz ML, attempted to run them off the road. They bumped them, while dozens of bullets were fired towards them.
As the Merc ML tried to overtake the three friends’ car, a bullet pierced its back window. Another collision sent their car spinning for several hundred metres before the high-speed chase ended at the side of the road. The three men scrambled out and lay down in the nearby veld.
Several men, two of whom Cassim identified as the brothers of the man who owed him R38 000, surrounded them.
They allegedly identified each other by name while Cassim and his friends played dead. The group saw the men stretched on the ground, but did not approach them.
Cassim said he thought the pressure of being discovered by police and the thought that Cassim and his two friends were surely dead caused the men to leave the scene after taking the cash.
The trio filed
attempted murder and armed robbery charges against Hoosein and Hassan Mohamed. Hassan was arrested hours after the incident and Hoosein turned himself in on Monday.
According to the Mohameds’ legal representative, BDK Attorneys’ Ulrich Roux, the case was struck from the court roll the next day at the Brits Magistrate’s Court. “Clearly the complaint laid is one without real merit … there was not enough evidence.”
But O’Sullivan said the investigation was just starting.
Cassim has since fled the country.
In April this year, Cassim sent a harsh SMS to Hanif after he had been waiting several months for payment. A phone call with Hanif’s father, Rafiq, turned into a shouting match, with SMS threats continuing over the next two days.
A late-night phone call from Rafiq ended in a death threat.
Cassim said his mother called to say his older brother had been taken from his parents’ Brits home by an angry mob. He was told that the kidnapping was to force him to go to his parents’ home to face the group, allegedly organised by the Mohamed family.
After he had a private security company accompany him, Cassim said he had negotiated – in the presence of guns – with the angry group.
There was agreement that the full amount would be paid before the end of the month, ending the feud.
Cassim said a frantic call on his way home made him realise the deal was a fraud.
As he was passing Pecanwood Estate at Hartbeespoort Dam, another vehicle tried to ram his car and shots were fired at him as he drove past.
Cassim told police he had escaped and filed an attempted murder case at the Brits police station.
The Mohameds’ lawyer has denied any of them were involved.