Clues to a murder: thugs, Cape clubs and contract killers
A war crimes suspect and a murder fugitive pop up as SA agents probe a hit on an underworld figure in Serbia
International spies, murdered hitmen, war crimes suspects, Western Cape nightclubs and corrupt government officials.
These are the seemingly unrelated clues that the South African State Security Agency officials are looking at to try to help their Serbian counterparts identify and locate the killers of one of the SSA’s top intelligence contract agents, Gorgi “George” Darmanovic.
The SSA is probing a possible link between Darmanovic’s murder and a hit in Johannesburg two weeks ago on a man called Milan “Miki” Djuricic.
Intelligence sources told Times Select it is believed that Darmanovic knew the identity if Djuricic’s killers; and that could be why Darmonovic was murdered.Darmanovic, a close friend of murdered mobster Cyril Beeka and controversial Cape Town nightclub security company businessman Nafiz Modack, was gunned down outside the Belgrade High Court in Serbia on Sunday by two masked men on a motorbike.
His assassination, in which he was shot twice through the back of the head, follows the killing in Johannesburg of Djuricic, a Serbian and international murder fugitive.
The Hawks, through Interpol, helped their Serbian counterparts in identifying Djuricic, who according to Serbian media reports was linked to the murder of Balkans war crimes suspect and organised crime mobster Zeljko “Arkan” Razatovic.
Razatovic was killed in 2000 shortly before he was to stand trial for war crimes committed in the 1990s.
Djuricic, who had been hiding out in South Africa for the past 10 years, according to Serbian The Telegraf crime reporter Milos Lazic, was close friends with both Darmanovic and Beeka’s former driver, Dobrosa Gavric, known also as Sasa Kovacevic.
Kovacevic, according to Lazic, is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in Serbia for Razatovic’s murder.
The Serbian news site Blic reported that the Hawks and South African police had assisted their Serbian counterparts, through Interpol, to identify Djuricic's body.
The site reported that Djuricic was killed in Strijdom Park, Randburg, when two men with semi-automatic rifles forced his Jeep off the road at a traffic light and opened fire on him.
Randburg police station spokesperson Captain Makgowanyana Maja told both Blic and the Randburg Sun that the killers, one of whom was masked, had been following Djuricic’s car, which they had blocked at a traffic light before they shot him.
Maja told Times Select on Monday there had still not been arrests in connection with the murder, after which the killers escaped without taking any of Djuricic’s valuables.SSA and crime intelligence sources told Times Select that Darmanovic had apparently recently received information about the identity of Djuricic’s killers and where they were hiding out in Serbia.
“This [Darmanovic’s murder] involves serious international crime bosses. It’s about revenge. It’s by no means over,” said the source, speaking strictly on condition of anonymity.
He said that Darmanovic was working on several intelligence-gathering operations involving Eastern European crime syndicates which were trying to set up operations and fill voids created by the recent ousting of mobsters in the Western Cape and Johannesburg.
“These gangs are muscling in on the nightclubs and escort agencies. They were looking at bringing in women illegally from Europe.
“It seems people got word that he [Darmanovic] was gathering information and tipping off authorities of both South Africa and Serbia about this. It’s clear that they didn’t want this information to get out.”A crime intelligence source told Times Select that Darmanovic was due to meet a contact outside the court when he was killed.
“One of the guys on the motorbike came up behind him and double-tapped him [shot him twice rapidly] in the head. They shot him again in the chest. CCTV footage shows the gunman running off and riding off on a motorbike.”Modack confirmed to Times Select on Monday that he had been a “very close” friend with Darmanovic, who was from Johannesburg.
“I am shocked by his murder. We met through our mutual friend Cyril Beeka. He was a very friendly and loyal person.”
Asked about Darmanovic’s links to the SSA, and who could have been behind his murder and the motive for the killing, Modack declined to comment.
SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said that, as a matter of policy, “the SSA does not discuss operational matters”.