Mihalik murder: 'His loyal friends will pick up his blood'

Advocates Ross McKernan, Stacey Webb and Pete Mihalik during the Jason Rohde trial.
Advocates Ross McKernan, Stacey Webb and Pete Mihalik during the Jason Rohde trial.
Photo: Jaco Marais

The assassination of prominent criminal advocate Pete Mihalik in Cape Town on Tuesday morning has sparked concerns about an escalation in violence as retaliation is sought.

An underworld figure close to Mihalik told News24 that "his blood will be picked up by his loyal friends", a clear indication that there could be revenge attacks. 

Mihalik, 50, who represented several high-profile criminal accused linked to the underworld, had found himself in the middle of an apparent fight for control over the security industry in the Mother City. Mihalik was shot dead in his car outside Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard school in Green Point while dropping off his children.

His 8-year-old son was wounded and is in hospital.

A lawyer who worked with Mihalik, who does not want to be named, said there is concern that "there will be chaos now". 

"There are a lot of people who are upset about how it happened," the attorney said. 

According to eyewitnesses, a gunman was seen running from the scene shortly after firing two shots, and drove off in a silver Volkswagen Polo. 

Where Mihalik fits in 

Mihalik was a well-known criminal advocate and was popular amongst his peers.

Although his personal life was chequered, several colleagues say he was "a good guy and a good lawyer".

His wife, mother and sister had all committed suicide. However, he was a committed parent to his children. 

Mihalik's client list reads like a who's who of organised crime, although he was known to try and represent members of opposing factions in an attempt to keep the peace. 

Over the past two years, his name became more prominently linked to an apparent fight between two factions in Cape Town.

There were allegations of extortion, police manipulation and corruption. On the one side is Sea Point businessman Mark Lifman and security boss Andre Naude, along with alleged Sexy Boys leader Jerome 'Donkie' Booysen. On the other, is Nafiz Modack, veteran bouncer Jacques Cronje and another Booysen brother, Colin. 

After Modack and a number of his associates were arrested on extortion charges last year, Mihalik handed over the bail application to his colleague Bruce Hendricks.

This was because Mihalik had been implicated himself. Ukrainian security kingpin Igor Russol named Mihalik in an affidavit, saying he acted as a middleman for Modack. 

Police officer Charl Kinnear testified that Mihalik had been acting as a "facilitator" and "mediator" between Modack and "rich Jewish business owners in Cape Town". 

"Pete Mihalik, acting as a facilitator in his chambers, brought in the business owners, making them believe he had no link with Modack or Booysen, and negotiated R100 000 payments per month for protection. This was done with Booysen, Modack and another person in the group, Mark Louw. The money was then paid into Louw's account and he transferred that money into Modack's account," Kinnear testified. 

Mihalik was also accused of selling a gun that was at the centre of a dispute between the two factions, demanding R20 000 for it to be returned to 'Steroid King' Brian Wainstein, who was later murdered. 

The allegations against Mihalik were later pedalled back significantly in court. The prosecutor told the court that the evidence against the advocate had no substance and was "uncalled for". She went as far as suggesting that certain individuals had used the bail application "to hurl accusations, which are irrelevant to the case, at others".

Modack's legal team alleged that the policeman who made the allegations against him, Kinnear, was being manipulated by Lifman.

The businessman denied the claims. However, it is now understood that Kinnear is the investigating officer in Mihalik's murder and there are suggestions this could be a conflict of interest. 

The gun case 

On November 7, 2016, prominent attorney Noorudien Hassan was shot in his car outside his home in Lansdowne.

Hassan worked closely with Mihalik and also represented some of the city's most notorious characters. Hassan was also representing a man in what would emerge as the country's biggest gun-smuggling investigation. 

Former police colonel Chris Prinsloo sold at least 2 000 firearms meant to be destroyed by police, via middlemen, to gangsters.

It's believed 1 066 murders were carried out with 888 of these guns between 2010 and 2014. Prinsloo is currently serving a jail sentence for crimes, including theft and racketeering. 

He allegedly sold the guns to Vereeniging arms dealer Alan Raves and Rondebosch businessman Irshaad 'Hunter' Laher. Prinsloo, Raves and Laher were arrested as part of a massive investigation called Project Impi. 

When he was killed, Hassan had acted for Laher.

At the time, Mihalik spoke about how devastated he was at his colleague's murder. "We've done so many cases together and he used to show such courage in all the cases. He was prepared to help any person from any walk of life. I'm totally devastated," Mihalik said. 

Mihalik took over the case from Hassan and has now suffered the same fate. The similarities between his murder, and that of Hassan's, are eerie.

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