Promoter Arrested For Fraud

South African promoter Duncan Heafield has been arrested for fraud and is reportedly being held at a police station in Durban.

News outlets including Cape Town’s KFM and Johannesburg’s 702 Talk Radio began reporting the arrest April 15, saying the Kusasa Commodities Entertainment chief is being held on suspicion of stealing money from investors and suppliers.

He was reportedly arrested in the same city the previous day, although the police are believed to have been searching for him since the warrant was issued April 10.

Police representative Michael Read has confirmed the arrest and said Heafield will be transported to the Sandton Police Station, where he will face multiple charges of fraud.

The story broke within hours of Ticketconnection going bust because it doesn’t have the cash to handle the refunds on Heafield’s canceled Josh Groban shows.

"It is with great regret and disappointment that we have had to withdraw from the marketplace," Ticketconnection managing director Lise Kuhle told the Cape Argus.

She had earlier told Pollstar that her company had been trying to get back the Groban box office takings it had advanced to Heafield, claiming he had told her he would pay when he got his deposit back from Groban’s management.

Kuhle said she was advised by attorneys not to comment on whether she saw proof that Heafield had actually sent deposit payments for Groban or how many of the estimated 40,000-plus ticket buyers are still waiting for refunds.

A week ago Ticketconnection told Groban fans to go direct to Heafield get their money back, a move that led to Johannesburg Coca-Cola Dome banning the ticketing company until it meets its obligations to the ticket holders. The venue had earlier banned Heafield because it claimed his way of doing business is a disgrace to the South African live music industry.

Ticketconnection tanked because it was hit by thousands of fans clawing back their refunds using credit card charge backs.

"A credit card charge back is when a customer simply asks the bank to reverse the purchase made on their credit card, and the customer is then directly reimbursed," Kuhle told Cape Argus. "Kusasa says Ticketconnection must handle the refunds but they have all the money."

Greg Bold, owner of the catering company Spotted Zebra that catered for the setup and breakdown crew for the Dion concert in Durban, said he’s sent a lawyer’s letter to Heafield saying that he had seven days to pay up the Rand 111,000 (US$ 4,000) he’s owed or he will take him to court.

Anton Gillis, GM of Protea Hotel Fire & Ice in Cape Town, says Kusasa owes his company and the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction more than R600,000 (US$76,000) for hosting guests.

He says his attorneys issued letters of demand to Kusasa but they have so far gone unanswered.

Kirsten Wier says her project management consultancy company, which covered the staffing, hiring and sale of beverages for some of the Dion concerts, is owed R1.5 million (US$190,000).

Others who’ve already said they’ve taken legal action against Kusasa include Steve Haag, who has a limousine company called Entertainment U.K. and runs the hospitality suite at Durban ABSA Stadium, MainEvent Catering, Executive Bodyguards, and Computicket.

Gerry Hayes from Computicket, the country’s major ticket-seller, says his company has outstanding legal action against Heafield, who allegedly reneged on an exclusive ticketing deal for his shows by enlisting Ticketconnection.

Heafield, who didn’t respond to Pollstar requests for comment at press time, is suing fellow South African promoter Hazel Feldman for R111 million (US$14 million).

R8 million is reportedly for defamation of character, R26 million for breach of contract, R54 million for loss of income (for the canceled Groban concerts), and R23 million for breach of confidentiality.