On May 31 1997 mobster Corrie Goosen died when he crashed his Honda Blackbird 1100 cc motorbike while racing at a speed of over 300km on a highway near Port Elizabeth.
His death was as spectacular and dramatic as his life. Goosen was a legend: a former kick-boxing champion, dragster racer, brothel boss and above all: a gangster of Sicilian proportions. His death came three weeks before he was due to appear in court in Klerksdorp on charges of stealing more than R10 million of diamonds from a family of Afrikaner farmers and prospectors.
Jacques Pauw's DEATH OF A GANGSTER takes viewers on a journey into the heart of the underworld and exposes a litany of murder, diamond smuggling, robbery, prostitution and police corruption as it tells the story of one of Johannesburg's most notorious gangs.
This 90-minute film traces Goosen's life from his poor childhood in the mining village of Randfontein to the sleaze of the Johannesburg underworld. He was a member of one of Johannesburg's most notorious gangs. Other members were Ferdi Barnard, former CCB operative, and Ralph Heyns, who was sentenced to death during the Eighties for a series of bank robberies and spent several years on death row before being reprieved. Heyns, the main storyteller in this film, is currently a boxing trainer.
Goosen is the third member of the gang who has died since 1994. His brother Johan faked his own death in 1992 to pick up a R172 000 insurance claim, but was arrested two years later and convicted of fraud. He actually died in 1995 - also in a high-speed motorbike accident. Another gang member, Eugene Riley, was murdered in 1994.
All the members of the gang grew up in the conservative Afrikaner suburbs of western Johannesburg and Corrie Goosen, Barnard and Riley also worked for apartheid's dirty tricks units during the Eighties. For nearly ten years, this gang reigned supreme. Up to the early Nineties, they committed their crimes under the protection of the apartheid security forces. Although Corrie had several previous convictions for diamond smuggling, he always managed to stay out of prison: by threatening to kill state witnesses and bribing policemen to steal dockets.
Barnard, Goosen and Heyns were a terrifying trio, and although they were investigated for a series of diamond robberies, police could not find witnesses to testify against them. Now victims who were previously too scared to come forward tell their stories to Jacques Pauw.
Diplomat was involved in illegal diamond deals, claims Barnard Stephané Bothma
PRETORIA - A former Austrian consul-general in SA was involved in illegal diamond dealings worth R1,4m and even flew his "agent" and Ferdi Barnard to Swaziland in his official jet to look at uncut diamonds, the high court heard yesterday.
The claim was made by Barnard, a former policeman and Civil Co-operation Bureau operative who has pleaded not guilty to 34 charges including the murder of Wits university anti-apartheid activist David Webster. Other charges relate to fraud involving illegal diamond deals.
State witness Bill Douven told the court that Barnard's alleged crime partner, Corrie Goosen, had borrowed more than R2,1m from him to purchase diamonds. Douven denied being involved in any illegal deal and said his only involvement was to value diamonds for Goosen occasionally and to advance the money. Goosen died in a motorcycle accident last year.
However, through his defence advocate Fanie Coetzee, Barnard claimed that Douven had in 1990 and 1991 acted as an agent for Hubert Krottenberger, then the Austrian consul-general in SA, to purchase large amounts of uncut diamonds.
"Krottenberger even gave Douven a black Mercedes 500 as a reward for acting on his behalf," Coetzee told the court.
Douven strongly denied the allegations, but admitted that Krottenberger had flown him and Barnard to Swaziland on one occasion to inspect diamonds. The "diamonds" turned out to be glass, Douven said.
"The only reason he flew us to Swaziland was because I did not feel like driving there," Douven told Judge Johan Els.
He said Krottenberger, "a very successful businessman and a friend for 30 years currently residing in the US", had also lent him R75 000 which was paid over to Barnard. "That was Krottenberger's only involvement."
Barnard said that the R1,4m diamond deal was arranged by Douven and the sellers on behalf of Krottenberger and that he (Barnard) had merely provided security. Barnard claimed he was paid R50 000 by Douven for his services, which was denied by Douven.
Douven told the court he had lost R2,19m through his dealings with Barnard and Goosen. "I was shocked and disheartened and any other person would probably have taken his own life," Douven, a Kempton Park businessman, said.
Douven also told the court that Barnard had admitted to him his involvement in the 1989 assassination of Webster. "I received an order to kill Webster," Barnard allegedly told Douven.