‘Gang boss had police station under control, cops on payroll’

Anthony Gounden

Anthony Gounden

Published Apr 14, 2024


A HAWKS investigator has testified that alleged “Tatu” gang boss, Anthony Gounden, “had the Verulam Police Station under control” and some of the detectives were on his payroll.

He said corrupt police officers were assisting drug dealers to open security companies so they could have access to firearms.

Gounden, 44, of Redcliffe, appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court last week for the attempted murder of an off-duty metro police officer on March 9.

At the time, Gounden had fled the scene and handed himself over to police on March 13. He is also facing charges of fraud, defeating and obstructing the course of justice and the unlawful possession of firearms

Detective Warrant Officer, Sivan Naidoo, told the court that his team had been tasked to investigate high profile cases, including gang and drug related matters and attacks on the police.

Naidoo told the court the metro police officer was returning home from a prayer, when he encountered Gounden and two of his body guards.

“There was a dispute due to Gounden’s vehicle blocking the traffic. The police officer, who was off-duty, confronted the accused. Witnesses said two bodyguards alighted from another vehicle and started attacking the victim.”

Naidoo said the bodyguards had kicked him off his feet and hit him with the butt of a firearm on his head, face and body.

“The accused joined the attack by kicking the victim. The victim was lying on the floor.”

Naidoo said before Gounden left the scene, he picked the metro police officer off the ground and said: “Remember me. I am Tatu. He uttered the words ‘I don’t f****n care you are a policeman’.”

He said members of the public called the victim’s family. He was not conscious when his family arrived and he was taken to hospital, said Naidoo.

He said witnesses had told him that the victim was not armed and the attack had not been provoked.

“The victim sustained critical injuries,, which included swelling to his brain and internal injuries. Doctors had to cut open the victim’s skull to ease the pressure of the swelling. He is currently semi-conscious but remains in a critical condition,” said Naidoo.

“Tatu is a nickname that is used by the accused and the majority of people in Verulam know him by the name,” he added.

He said his team took over the investigation because some of the detectives in Verulam “were reluctant to take on the case because they were on Gounden’s payroll”.

“The accused has been linked to the case by eye-witnesses. I am opposed to his bail because there are rumours that he is a known drug dealer and he has the Verulam Police Station under control,” said Naidoo.

He said a constable from Verulam SAPS, Sherwynn Ezra Chetty, was recently arrested transporting drugs and moonlighting as a body-guard for the accused.

Naidoo said during the investigation, they went to the accused’s attorney, mum, sisters and wife to find out where he was.

“They did not know where he was. His wife informed us that she was in hospital and he was with his girlfriend. The witnesses are in fear of him. Police are also scared of him. Through our investigations we found there is a new trend whereby drug dealers register security companies with the help of police officials. This allows them to be in possession of firearms and rifles under the pretext of security.”

He said Gounden, the witnesses and the victim, all stayed within 5km of each other and the witnesses believed Gounden would kill them.

“The accused moves around with bodyguards. A rival gang wanted to kill him and he went into hiding. They killed his son to drive him out. He was shot afterwards but survived. His friend was killed. Prison seems to be the safest place for him,” testified Naidoo.

During his bail application, Gounden denied being a drug dealer, gang boss and assaulting the police officer.

In an affidavit read out by his attorney Chris Gounden, the court heard that he was self-employed and owned three businesses - Gadla VIP Protection Services, Illusions Bar and a car wash.

He said since his arrest, all of his businesses had ceased operations due to harassment from both the Anti-Gang Unit and the metro police.

Gounden told the court his wife was battling cancer and was currently in remission. She also suffered with pancreatic illnesses and was bipolar.

He said on the day of the incident, it was the security guards that had assaulted the police officer. He said he was in no physical condition to assault the officer because he had recently been shot multiple times on his right hand and right leg and previously on the abdomen.

Gounden said he was depressed due to his wife’s ill health and because his son had been murdered.

He told the court that he was familiar with the officer and there was no animosity between them. He said from March 11 to the 13, when police were looking for him, he was away running business errands.

“When I returned home, I was informed that a number of metro police officers, together with police from the Anti- Gang Unit and the son-in-law of the officer who is a SAPS officer, had visited my bar. They damaged most of the fixtures, destroyed a significant portion of the alcohol stock, damaged all the cameras and stole approximately R40 000 and a digital video recorder.”

He claimed that the police had removed several of his certifications and a picture of his late son, which was thrown on a desk and the floor.

Gounden said the same team had ransacked his house, stealing money and more than R1 million worth of jewellery.

He said the case was a straightforward assault matter.

“The police are alleging that I belong to the Tatu gang, which is absolutely nonsensical. There is no such gang that exists.”

Gounden told the court he could afford bail of R10 000.

State prosecutor Atayla Govender, told the court they opposed bail due to the safety of the witnesses and the victim and his previous convictions from more than ten years ago.

The matter was adjourned until Thursday.

Gounden appeared in court again for a decision on his bail application. He was refused bail and the matter was adjourned to June for further investigation.