Strip club boss wants cash back
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.