Shocking details of how underworld figures use tech to hunt their prey laid bare

Bradley Goldblatt said he gave numerous warnings that Kinnear was in danger in the weeks leading up to his murder. Picture: Mahira

Bradley Goldblatt said he gave numerous warnings that Kinnear was in danger in the weeks leading up to his murder. Picture: Mahira

Published May 25, 2024


Cape Town - The murky modus operandi of alleged underworld trackers has been exposed at the Western Cape High Court as the elite Hawks Task Team has taken to the stand to reveal how slain Anti-Gang Unit detective Lieutenant-Colonel, Charl Kinnear, was hounded and ultimately assassinated outside his home.

Over the past week, shocking information on how the underworld accessed the personal details of Kinnear and other targets including well-known attorney William Booth was revealed as experts and detectives unpacked the digital evidence as part of the mammoth underworth trial of alleged kingpin, Nafiz Modack.

Central to the State’s case is the murder of Kinnear and the attempted assassination of Booth who was shot at multiple times outside his Higgovale home in April 2020.

According to the State’s case Modack had hired ex-rugby player and debt collector, Zane Kilian, from Springs to trace Kinnear and Booth as well as their spouses by pinging their cellphones and gaining access to their personal financial information.

Zane Kilian.

First on the stand was American software developer, Larry Hurwitz, who provided the pinging platform to a South African operator.

In his testimony Hurwitz told Judge Robert Henney that had a contractual agreement with MTN and was given access by the network to an interface which allowed him to access the location of a cellphone.

He admitted to selling access to former cop Bradley Goldblatt and claimed the pinging service could give a location of a cellphone. Hurwitz was proven wrong by Kilian’s defence attorney, advocate Pieter Nel, who conducted an in-court demonstration showing that the GPS co-ordinates in fact were for the cellphone tower closest to the phone.

Goldblatt subsequently took the stand and silence fell over the courtroom as he revealed that it had cost Kilian just R2 100 to get access to the platform. For this amount he could purchase a certain amount of pings and could even ‘top up’.

He told the court that he was made to believe that Kilian was a debt collector but admitted that he did not do background checks besides a criminal check.

Shockingly Goldblatt admitted on the stand that he also granted Kilian access to the MarisIT system which allowed him to access the addresses, bank account details and other personal information of his targets.

Goldblatt sold his passwords to the MarisIT system to Kilian for a mere R5000, enabling him to conduct consumer trace reports on Booth, Kinnear and their spouses.

The system was also used to trace details on alleged 28s gang boss, Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson.

Goldblatt was lambasted by Judge Henney who said with the evidence before him was a clear violation of privacy laws. “You shouldn’t have done it and you shouldn’t have sold it.”

The former cops further revealed that in the weeks leading to Kinnear’s assassination he warned the Hawks that Kinnear’s life was in danger and cut Kilian’s access but said he was instructed to reinstate it so Kilian’s activities could be monitored.

Taking the evidence further, Hawks team armed with the ping the lists and cellphones of the accused, Captain Edward du Plessis took the stand this week to reveal how Kilian allegedly paired the information obtained from the pings with consumer tracing reports to track Kinnear and Booth.

He revealed that during the arrest, Kilian handed over three cellphones but had deleted the WhatsApp chats on the main device. However, clever cops recovered a series of incriminating screenshots where information on Kinnear and Booth had been passed on in message format.

Du Plessis highlighted that one day Kinnear was pinged a staggering 118 times and at one point his location was pinged at one minute intervals as they tracked him after he left Zeevenwacht Mall. Coupled with the use of Google maps, the screenshots show an attempt to predict the time Kinnear would be arriving home on each of the highlighted days where his phone was pinged excessively.

It was also found that Kinnear and his team were being actively sought as they spent time in Johannesburg while investigating Modack. Screenshots of guest houses where Kilian and those allegedly working with him were also shown to court but their searches came up empty when Kinnear’s car could not be found.

Earlier evidence presented by Du Plessis showed that he found a similar pattern of tracking on Booth in the months leading to the attempted hit.

Du Plessis said he found screenshots of the consumer trace reports of Booth that had been sent to a contact saved on Kilian’s phone as “Nafiz 3” on March 14. According to the ping reports shown at the High Court, it was revealed that on the same date cops had found that Booth had been pinged 49 times in one day. The records shown to the court indicate that Booth was pinged excessively throughout the day and at one point the pings were conducted less than a minute apart.

Kilian also saved screenshots of conversations with a State witness named Abraar Bhamjee. Du Plessis said while Bhamjee would be called to testify, the Hawks teams were able to reveal the car used in the attempted hit on Booth, a Hyundai Creta, was owned by Bhamjee.

The trial has been postponed to June 3.

Weekend Argus