By Kotie Geldenhuys
Since the Czech fugitive, Radovan Krejcir, entered South Africa with a false passport in 2007, the bodies of people associated with him have been piling up. In May 2010, Lolly Jackson was gunned down in a house in Johannesburg. He and the Czech citizenwere allegedly involved in a R9 million money laundering scheme. Eight days after Lolly Jackson had given Krejcir R2 million and shortly after he was approached to give evidence against Krejcir in a money laundering investigation, he was shot dead (Mail & Guardian, 2011).
Cyril Beeka and Radovan Krejcir were friends and business partners in alleged gold and uncut diamond deals. But after Cyril Beeka had hit the Czech in front of other patrons at a Cape Town night club in November 2010, their relationship was never the same. On 21 March 2011, Cyril Beeka was assassinated in his vehicle in Cape Town. A number of Radovan Krejcir's associates have been murdered in separate incidents over the years, but Radovan Krejcir has repeatedly denied any involvement with local organised crime syndicates.
From drugs to extortion, the risks are high for those involved in the world of organised crime - a world that generates hundreds of millions of rand as a result of illegal practices. The underworld is alive and well in South Africa and it is not uncommon for the opposition to be taken out - even in the neighbourhoods where we live. Data shows that in 2018 there were more than 200 hits in the country with organised crime making up approximately 23% of the overall murder rate in South Africa (Carte Blanche, 2019).
Mafia style hits in South Africa
Since early 2000 there have been a string of mafia style hits in the country. These include the following:
- Brett Kebble was shot in September 2005 while he was driving to an alleged dinner engagement with his business associate in Johannesburg (refer to the Crime Series published in Servamus: May 2016).
- Lolly Jackson was shot at the house which George Louca rented in Edleen, east of Johannesburg in May 2010 (refer to the Crime Series published in Servamus: April 2016).
- Raymond “Razor” Barras was shot outside his house in Kensington, east of Johannesburg in February 2017. Barras had links with the criminal underworld as he was a former debt collector and bouncer to the illegal cigarette trade and in drug dealing circles (Wiener, 2017).
- Charl Lakay was gunned down in August 2018. Lakay was an alleged crime boss who is believed to be a key role-player in the Cape Town nightclub and security underworld. His death came two weeks after an attempted assassination on gang boss, Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, in the Soneike Mall in Kuils River (Franke, 2018).
- Serbian businessman George Mihaljevic was murdered in a drive-by mafia-style shooting in September 2018 in Bedfordview. It was alleged that Mihaljevic was a “dead man walking” after he had had a fallout with his alleged associate and convicted Czech organised crime boss Radovan Krejcir. Mihaljevic had historic links to Krejcir, but the two had an apparent fall-out after Krejcir had started a business similar to Mihaljevic’s Sandton Gold and Diamond Exchange. Both Mihaljevic's business and Krejcir’s Moneypoint in Bedfordview were based on the sales of mostly stolen jewellery. The animosity between the pair is reported to have grown after Mihaljevic had given evidence against Krejcir at the 2013 SARS inquiry. Following this, Mihaljevic’s father was kidnapped and tortured. He later died in the Milpark Hospital (The Citizen, 2018a).
- Pete Mihalik, a top gang lawyer, was shot dead as he dropped off his children at school in Green Point on 30 October 2018 (Hyman and Nombembe, 2018). Mihalik became known as the gangster lawyer over the years, representing several known high-flyers, including alleged Sexy Boys gang boss Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, alleged nightclub security kingpin Mark Lifman and suspected 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield (Daniels, 2018).
- Ivan Djordjevic, who allegedly had links with a Serbian organised crime ring, was tailgated by two men in a BMW into a residential complex in Bryanston one afternoon in April 2019. They opened fire on his Mercedes-Benz. CCTV footage of the incident showed how Djordjevic leaped out of his vehicle and attempted to flee, but he was gunned down a few metres away. The two men jumped back into the BMW and fled. This came after Djordjevic previously survived a hit when he was ambushed while parked at a KFC in Bedfordview in September 2017. The gunmen opened fire on his vehicle and he was hit four times. He spent several months in hospital and part of his jaw was damaged (Times Live, 2019).
- Jugoslav Smiljkic was killed in a drive-by attack in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg in broad daylight during March 2019. He was regarded as a minor Serbian criminal when he landed in South Africa more than a decade before. However, he hooked up with Dobrosav Gavric, who was Cyril Beeka’s driver and is currently behind bars and awaiting extradition from South Africa for murdering a warlord in Serbia during 2000, and other former Yugoslavs (Wiener, 2019).
- Former Bafana Bafana soccer player, Mark Batchelor, was gunned down in a hit in July 2019 in front of his house in Olivedale. His links to the gangs operating in Johannesburg have since been well-documented. It seems that he had his fingers in some very dangerous pies. Police found cocaine worth millions hidden in a second-hand tractor imported from South Africa and the police linked the discovery to the murder of Batchelor. Both incidents happened within a day of each other. He was also involved with the Serbian gangs which operate below the radar in Johannesburg. Even the way he was killed was a hallmark of the Eastern-Europeans’ preferred method of execution (Head, 2019).