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Cape Town - A Cape Town hitman and secret witness to the city’s most sensational unsolved murder - the drive-by assassination of crime boss Cyril Beeka in March 2011 - has been shot dead.
Former Sexy Boys gangster and hitman Leon “Lyons” Davids had been in the witness protection programme in connection with Beeka’s murder.
Davids had been with a group of friends at Bloemendal Avenue in Belhar at about 6.20pm when two unidentified men approached him and opened fire.
An 18-year-old woman was shot in the foot and a 40-year-old man sustained a minor head wound in the shooting, police said.
Davids had been linked to Beeka’s murder, and had been seeking a plea bargain, sources said. He had wanted indemnity from prosecution, or a reduced sentence, for fingering the masterminds behind Beeka’s murder.
Leon Davids, according to reports last year, also had information that could have helped solve the murder of Ukrainian underworld enforcer Yuri “The Russian” Ulianitski, who was gunned down with his four-year-old daughter outside a Milnerton restaurant in 2007.
The local Community Policing Forum in Belhar said on Thursday there was not a clear link between Davids’s murder and his status as a state witness in the Ulianitski and Beeka murder investigations. Another source said Davids had been released from the witness protection programme, and that was why he had been out in public when he was killed. The circumstances of his release from the witness protection programme were unclear.
Davids was a prominent member of the Sexy Boys gang. His brother, Colin, survived an attempt on his life earlier this year, said CPF chairman Sebastian Julie.
“For weeks now there has been a back and forth of shootings between the Sexy Boys and other gangs in the Belhar area. This murder could be the latest retaliatory shooting in that cycle of violence,” he said, adding that the shootings were related to control of the drug market in the area.
However, a Johannesburg-based forensic consultant with inside knowledge of the Beeka investigation, who asked not to be identified, said Davids’s murder was probably carried out by those who had an interest in preventing him from becoming a state witness, if and when Beeka’s killers are brought to book.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Davids had information that could point the finger directly at Beeka’s killers. The killers knew this and, in my opinion, acted to ensure that he never got the chance to testify in court,” the consultant said.
Meanwhile Beeka’s family say they still do not know who was responsible for the drive-by shooting that killed Cyril Beeka.
His brother, Daniel Beeka, said if Davids did have information about Cyril’s death, it could mean those responsible would never be brought to book.
“We still do not know what this man knew, his level of involvement - and he co-operated with police. The mystery is deepening and there’s still no clarity,” Beeka said, adding the family was “still in the dark” and that it appeared as though the case had gone cold. “If this man did in fact open up about Cyril’s death, surely we as the family should be informed about what he knew,” Beeka said.
Police have asked anyone with information to contact investigating officer Michelle Stuurman on 021 953 8100.