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Cape Town - Weeks prior to the hit on high-ranking Sexy Boys member, Leon “Lyons” Davids - who was to be a secret witness in helping police solve the murder of Cyril Beeka - police and intelligence teams were warned about the imminent attack.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has called on police to explain why a “State witness of massive importance” was allowed to walk around openly in a neighbourhood where he was well-known and allegedly involved in gangsterism.
Davids was gunned down in Belhar on Wednesday.
A source close to police intelligence, said information was handed over to authorities detailing a plot allegedly masterminded by people close to Davids.
Insiders close to the Sexy Boys claimed Lyons was “set up by his own gang, who orchestrated a plot to get their rivals to take him out.”
One source with inside knowledge of the gangs said Davids was forced to prove to his own gang that he was not a police informer after rumours surfaced last year that he was ratting them out to the police about the mysterious unsolved murders of Cyril Beeka and Ukrainian underworld boss Yuri “The Russian” Ulianitski.
“Because the gangs thought Davids was making statements against them, and that he was being held in witness protection by the national intelligence service, after disappearing from the city for months on end, he was asked to prove his loyalty by taking out a rival gang boss,” the source said.
Another source confirmed information was leaked by Davids’s own gang to a rival gang boss that Davids was planning a hit on him.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said he could not comment on speculation and allegations.
Van Wyk urged the source to come forward and approach provincial police with the information.
A former 26s gang member, who did not want to be named, said the modus operandi of the Sexy Boys would likely change, as the leadership did not know what their so-called main “hitman” had revealed to police in Joburg about the gang’s main operations and activities in the Cape Town underworld.
Outside the house, a man was cleaning blood stains off the pavement.
Davids’s mother, who lived only a few doors down from the house in Bloemendal Street, Belhar, was clearly still in shock. “I was inside my house when this happened,” she said.
She said no arrangements had been made for the funeral. She declined to give her name.
Locals feared reprisals, saying the area would soon be plagued by running gun battles.
A Belhar community worker, who did not want to be named, said: “This could turn out to be a bloody weekend.”
A witness, who watched the drama unfold outside his house, said the two men had been hanging around the corner before they walked straight up to a group of men and opened fire.
“It sounded like fireworks going off. One minute Leon was standing there braaing; the next thing multiple shots rang out. There were children playing outside, I ducked, and when I looked up again I just saw the man of the house grabbing the kids and running inside,” the witness said.
Another woman said the group had been celebrating a birthday party when the men opened fire.
Another resident said the Sexy Boys bosses were on the scene within minutes of the attack.
Plato said there was “every indication Davids held key information which could have helped to bring Cyril Beeka’s killers to book”.
“Now, he has taken that knowledge to the grave. It is perplexing that an individual who had this information and was willing to co-operate with the police and prosecutors was not given better protection,” said Plato.
He noted with sympathy the anger and uncertainty expressed by Beeka’s family when they heard of Davids’s murder. He empathised with their fears that a person who could have given key testimony to bring Beeka’s killers to book was now gone.
“If these killers are now allowed to get away, there is a fear that more murders - murders which could have been avoided - will be committed.”
An intelligence source in Joburg said Davids had made two statements to police.
“Police could not use the information as it was not going to stand up in court and the fact that he made more than one statement and changed his story a few times. It was not going to help their case by using the hitman that was seeking indemnity for the case,” the source said.
As of late last night, police said no arrest had yet been made.
warda.meyer@ inl.co.za and daneel.knoetze@ inl.co.za