Strip club boss wants cash back

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

The long bat­tle be­tween strip club owner An­drew Phillips and the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) has taken another turn.

In the latest twist, Phillips is pre­par­ing to launch a mas­sive civil claim against the As­set For­fei­ture Unit (AFU).

Phillips, who owned The Ranch be­fore it was shut down by the unit in Fe­bru­ary 2000, is de­mand­ing R800 mil­lion in dam­ages from the state.

“We are busy draft­ing the pa­pers and will soon be launch­ing a civil claim against the NPA. My prop­er­ties were at­tached while they were in pris­tine con­di­tion, but now they look like a dump­site,” he said.

Phillips claims the state failed to main­tain his prop­er­ties while the mat­ter was be­ing ar­gued in court for 12 years.

He was ac­cused of bring­ing for­eign women into the coun­try and forc­ing them to work at The Ranch. Phillips was found not guilty by the Johannesbu­rg Mag­is­trates’ Court in 2006 af­ter it found that the NPA had un­law­fully ap­pointed pri­vate ad­vo­cates to pros­e­cute him.

The state ap­pealed and, three years ago, the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) in Bloem­fontein again ruled in favour of Phillips.

It or­dered a stay of pros­e­cu­tion, which meant Phillips could not be pros­e­cuted again in con­nec­tion with The Ranch and The Titty Twis­ter.

The SCA lam­basted the NPA for the “in­or­di­nate de­lay” in Phillips’ pros­e­cu­tion, which it called “in­ex­cus­able”.

For more than two years, Phillips has re­fused to take own­er­ship of his as­sets, say­ing he wanted his prop­er­ties re­turned to him as they had been when they were at­tached.

“They should fix my prop­er­ties or we will meet in court again,” he said.

The state had at­tached The Ranch and The Titty Twis­ter al­leg­ing they were broth­els that prof­ited from pros­ti­tu­tion.

Three se­nior sources in the NPA said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had spent mil­lions on cu­ra­tors’ fees, se­cu­rity and other ser­vices for the prop­er­ties.

“The mat­ter is now haunting for­mer AFU head Wil­lie Hofmeyr who is be­ing probed for fraud and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture by the NPA,” said a source in the pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­ity.

“The new lead­er­ship wants to know why the mat­ter has not been re­solved and why more than R22 mil­lion was spent two years af­ter the case was set­tled. They will use it to get rid of Hofmeyr, who is in the op­pos­ing fac­tion with his boss, Shaun Abra­hams,” added the source.

Another se­nior NPA em­ployee said the pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­ity had launched an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to es­tab­lish if some of its em­ploy­ees were re­ceiv­ing kick­backs from the cu­ra­tors, who have been on the NPA pay­roll for more than 15 years.

“The NPA does not have money to re­store the prop­erty and it also can­not af­ford to con­tinue pay­ing monthly ex­penses on a closed mat­ter,” said another NPA em­ployee.

The NPA was not avail­able for com­ment.

An­drew Phillips

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