News / 26 September 2018, 11:15am / Lindile sifile
THE Serbian businessman killed in a movie-style drive-by shooting in Ekurhuleni is the latest victim to be murdered in a mostly eastern European mafia gang war that has turned Gauteng into a mini underworld battlefield.
Two forensic investigators with a long history of tracking the underworld have given explosive insight into the deadly activities of these gangs, who are suspected of executing George Mihaljevic on Monday.
Mihaljevic, who owned Sandton Gold and Diamond Exchange and Salon Privé, was killed in a hail of bullets in Bedfordview. It is believed that two men on motorcycles shot him after he had stopped on Van Buuren Road, before speeding off.
Police spokesperson Captain André de Jager said Mihaljevic was shot through the window of his Porsche.
“He managed to drive about 100m before he stopped the car, got out and collapsed next to it. He died at the scene. He was shot several times,” said De Jager, adding that no arrests had been made.
The 43-year-old is the 14th victim in the ongoing war among mafia groups from eastern Europe (mainly Czech Republic) who have various businesses dealings in Gauteng. The killings can be traced back to 2009, and exclude five foiled hits.
The list of deceased includes attorneys, debt collectors and drug traffickers from various European and African countries, according to research conducted by forensic investigator and fraud examiner Paul O’Sullivan.
He has done extensive investigation on these gangs, which led to a failed attempt on his life.
O’Sullivan said Mihaljevic was a “dead man walking” following a fallout with his associate and convicted Czech mobster, Radovan Krejcir.
“Mihaljevic has been living on borrowed time for many years. He was historically linked to Krejcir, but the two of them fell out after Krejcir stole Mihaljevic’s business model (Sandton Gold & Diamond Exchange) and adapted it for Moneypoint in Bedfordview. Both businesses were run along very similar grounds and made a handsome profit out of the proceeds of crime,” said O’Sullivan.
“Traditionally known as a ‘fence’, they mostly bought stolen jewellery, often taken in house robberies and the like. Sometimes the victims were murdered. Both Mihaljevic and Krejcir would buy the jewellery for less than 20% of its true value and break it down into its raw components, then melt down the gold and sell it as ingots, and sell the stones back into the jewellery trade,” he said.
In 2013, after Mihaljevic gave evidence in the SA Revenue Service’s (Sars) inquiry into the alleged proceeds of crime and money laundering by Krejcir, Sars liquidated Mihaljevic’s company and granted a preservation order of all the Krejcir-linked companies. This seemed to irk Krejcir and his associates. In December of the same year, Mihaljevic’s father Miso was kidnapped and tortured, and later died at Milpark Hospital. It’s believed Krejcir was behind the incident, but Mihaljevic denied this.
Fearing for his life, O’Sullivan said Mihaljevic moved his family to Europe and became a “suitcase husband”.
“However, the lure of quick bucks on shady drug and jewellery deals proved too much for him, and he has now been added to the list of dead Krejcir associates, bringing the South African total to 14. Although I doubt Krejcir had direct involvement,” said O’Sullivan.
IRS Forensic Investigations’ Chad Thomas said: “There have been several hits in Johannesburg in recent months, along with three hits in Belgrade (Serbia) all allegedly linked to an ongoing international organised crime war. It’s unfortunate that South Africa has become a battleground for rival syndicates to settle scores,” said Thomas.
O’Sullivan said SA’s lax laws made the country a playground for gangs to prosper.
“There is no rule of law in South Africa. Virtually none of the crimes committed by Krejcir were ever solved, because the cops were on his payroll. The Police, the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have been captured for at least the last five years.
"The return of the rule of law is not going to happen any time soon, whilst the law enforcement agencies are being managed by the mafia, which is a big pity because the vast majority of police officers are honest, hardworking people that want to make a difference. They are lions led by corrupt donkeys,” said O’Sullivan.