Inside the chilling world of SA hitmen
Speaking just a day after former soccer star Marc Batchelor was killed in a suspected hit outside his Johannesburg north house on Monday, independent forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan said gunmen for hire were always on standby to take a job.
O’Sullivan said it had become easy to hire “unprofessional” assassins, with prices ranging between R50 000 to R100 000.
“You will recall Shrien Diwani’s wife was murdered for R50 000. A professional ‘job’ if that’s the right word can go for R200 000 upwards. I know of one such attempted hit we investigated a few years back when a person from Portugal contracted someone from Russia to do a hit in South Africa for a million rand,” O’Sullivan said.
The forensic investigator recalled how the Russian national came to South Africa and allegedly hired imprisoned Czech national Radovan Krejcir to do a hit for R500 000.
He claimed that Krejcir then hired someone else to do it for R250 000 and the price went lower as a third hitman was contracted to do the job for R100 000.
“The ‘target’ was badly injured, but survived. The ‘hitman’ at the lower end of the food chain is behind bars for another murder,” O’Sullivan said.
He said it was shocking that police had not made “a single arrest” to several high-profile hits in the country.
He was reacting to the latest assassin of former Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows striker at his Olivedale home.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that police were hunting for two suspects believed to have carried out the daring movie-style hit on a motorbike.
He also identified the passenger who survived the attack as Batchelor’s gardener and that police have taken a statement from him.
The suspects sprayed Batchelor’s white BMW SUV with several bullets on the driver’s window, killing him instantly. They fled without taking anything.
Cape Town suspected underworld boss, Nafiz Modack, on Tuesday took time out from preparing for his corruption trial to throw his weight behind the police in the hunt for Batchelor’s killers.
Batchelor's crowning glory in football came when he was on the pitch in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, when Pirates overcame a “mission impossible” by defeating Asec Mimosa to become the first southern African team to win Africa’s highest club competition, Caf Champions League, in1995.
Tributes for Batchelor were led by his brother, Warren, who said on Tuesday that seeing his sibling's bullet-riddled body devastated him.
“My brother was a colourful character and he was talented. He was a good person; what happened to him is hard to explain. I hope justice would be served,” Warren said.
His views were echoed by Modack, who said: “My condolences go out to his family. I am sure that police are on to good leads, and I hope they make an arrest soon."
Motorbike hits are not new to Gauteng.
The first well known such hit was on state witness Hazel Crane who was killed before she could testify against Lior Saadt, a suspected notorious Israeli mafia figure.
“Her husband (Shai Avissar) had previously been battered to death with a cricket bat and his body found in a shallow grave near Pretoria. Avissar was a crime associate of Saadt and they ran a protection racket in the Jewish community,” O’Sullivan said.