Murder of bodybuilder in Cape Town 'was an underworld hit'
Boksburg athlete Tyrel Ekermans was cutting steroid deals when he 'disrespected' local syndicate boss, say sources
As Tyrel Ekermans’s friends and family mourn the death of a “kind and compassionate” athlete and father, speculation is rife that the professional bodybuilder’s death was an underworld hit.
Ekermans was stabbed in the neck near the trendy nightclub district of Bloubergstrand in Cape Town on Friday night. It is believed he had upset many underworld figures in Johannesburg; and went to Cape Town to explore steroid business opportunities there.
In Cape Town, he was asked to attend a meeting where they could spell out the rules to him, but he “disrespected” the meeting request – and ended up dead a few days later.
According to specialist forensic investigator Mike Bolhuis, who has been tracking the illegal steroid trade in South Africa, there are many allegations that Ekermans was involved in a large steroid-smuggling network.His wife, Ciara, has however denied him being involved in a smuggling network, saying these were “false accusations”.
But Bolhuis said it appeared as if Ekermans was a senior player and was just “under” “Steroid King” Brian Wainstein.
Wainstein was wanted by US authorities and was fighting extradition before he was murdered while sleeping next to his wife and child in his luxury home in Constantia last year.
“We’ve been been busy with ongoing investigations over the past two years and continuously investigating the steroid and drug trade, and Tyrel featured prominently here,” said Bolhuis.Several underworld sources have alleged that Ekermans, a Boksburg-based nutrition expert, was in Cape Town on “business”, which involved making deals for the sale of steroids and other “party drugs”.
Sources also said he was expected to meet a prominent underworld figure linked to a large nightclub extortion syndicate.
But this underworld figure, who asked not to be named, said he had wanted to meet Tyrel to explain to him “how things work in the Cape”.
“I wanted to see him because he made people angry (in Johannesburg), so I said to him: ‘Hey, pal, come here quickly, you’re in the Cape so let me quickly give you the rules of the town’,” said the source.
“Then he decided to disrespect me by not coming, and I don’t know if those people got him afterwards at the gym to just tell him what it’s about.”
He said he was asked by a prominent underworld figure in Johannesburg to meet Ekermans who had allegedly “caused kak” in Johannesburg.It is not clear exactly what was meant by him “causing kak” but sources suggested to Times Select he could have been a police informer.
“He said: ‘Listen here, the guy is in town, he caused kak up here, just explain to him so he doesn’t cause kak down here and finish what he started up there, and he needs to ask for forgiveness from the people up there.’ So that’s what I did,” said the source.
A senior police officer in the Western Cape, who spoke to Times Select on condition of anonymity, said police had heard “similar rumours” but that the case is still being handled at “station level”.
“We are not even at theories yet. He was killed and they are investigating. We are taking witness statements at this stage,” said the source.Ekermans’s wife Ciara told Times Select in WhatsApp messages that he “lived for his family”.
“Tyrel had a heart of gold and most definitely lived for his family and his son. He was an exceptional father and when Jordan was born he was there every second and (it) was one of Tyrel’s best days of his life,” she said.
She said that two days before he died, Ekermans had his son Jordan’s face tattooed on his chest.
“He had an amazing bond with his dad, he truly is a mini Tyrel that lives on,” said Ciara.
She said she and her husband “had a lot in common”, including their love for fitness and “the dogs”, in reference to pit bulls, which were the theme of many of his tattoos.
“My husband was ‘my everything’, despite our ups and downs we loved each other unconditionally and always told each other how much we meant to each other,” she said.
“We had one of the most magical weddings. We had more laughs than cries and was a great provider and did anything to give us the best,” said Ciara.