Face-off between lawyer and ‘mafia’
Police had to defuse tense situation between Viljoen and Meyer
A BLOODBATH was narrowly averted this week when Pretoria’s celebrity lawyer squared up to a notorious gold refiner and alleged mafia boss over unpaid debts.
Peet Viljoen, whose controversial use of the capital’s most feared bouncer, Brian Hermann, was exclusively revealed in sister paper the Saturday Star last week, arrived with an enforcer and the sheriff of the high court and walked into the home of Juan Meyer and his posse of eight weapon-carrying bodyguards at Centurion’s upmarket residential estate, Cornwall Hill.
Viljoen was brandishing a court order in his hand for the repayment of R405 000 from Meyer, still outstanding from the original installation of R2 million worth of audiovisual equipment supplied by Sound and Image in Menlyn Pretoria.
Meyer has admitted that he owes the money, but says he is withholding payment until the company fixes outstanding problems with the equipment.
The tension reached breaking point as the two groups flung insults at each other.
Within minutes, heavily armed police swooped on the upmarket complex.
Bystanders claimed afterwards that Meyer’s bodyguards warned the police they would open fire on Viljoen and his party rather than let him enter.
Meyer told police that the celebrity lawyer, who counts Springbok Joost van der Westhuizen and Afrikaans singer Steve Hofmeyr among his clients, had threatened him with physical violence the week before.
The bodybuilder and former boxer told officers that Viljoen had threatened to send Hermann to break his arms and legs if he didn’t pay the money he owed the Menlyn firm.
“He also boasted that he was a very good lawyer and would f**k everybody up in court and had brought many big companies to their knees, but that he would prefer to settle this issue without having to go to court.”
Meyer also took exception to the wording in court papers describing him as a mafia boss. This followed his recent appearance on the M-Net actuality programme, Carte Blanche, about statements he had made in the O’Sullivan dossier about Czech fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir’s alleged criminal activities and his relationship with crime intelligence boss Joey Mabasa.
Last week, Viljoen felt compelled to get an interdict against Hermann, preventing his enforcer from coming within 500m of him or his family, after the two fell out.
Viljoen claimed he had to get legal protection because he could not defend himself against Hermann – a former national cruiserweight champion and an extreme cage fighter. Hermann revealed details of how Viljoen had used him to threaten, intimidate and assault his rivals and business associates.
“I am a skinny little lawyer who, at the best of times, merely weighs 90kg,” Viljoen said. “How can I physically take on those big guys?”
He denied too that he threatened Meyer with Hermann, adding there would be no rea- son since he had interdicted the bouncer from coming within 500m of him and his family.
Meyer first tried to avoid the impact of the court order by claiming he didn’t own the property.
After hours of deliberations between his lawyers, Viljoen and the sheriff and by telephone, Meyer relented and the equipment was packed up into boxes.
Shortly afterwards he managed to overtur n the court order and the deputy sheriff and Sound and Image’s technicians returned, unpacked and reconnected the sound system and plasma screens.
Brent Durr, manager of Sound and Image, said Meyer had been a good client of theirs for several years.
“We have given him ample time to pay the outstanding R405 000 and he must understand such an outstanding amount gives us problems with our cash flow in the business. We are really not trying to be unreasonable.”
SHOWDOWN: Juan Meyer and Peet Viljoen confront each other in Centurion.