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AGE OF THE ASSASSIN

Wanted Bulgarian fugitive believed to be among four murdered in Constantia

Wanted Bulgarian fugitive believed to be among four murdered in Constantia
Crime scene experts process a multiple murder scene involving four foreign nationals in Constantia on 25 May 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

The bodies of two women and two men, with gunshot wounds, were discovered in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia on Thursday morning. The four are believed to be from Bulgaria. Previously, in a case linked to organised crime, two Bulgarians were assassinated in Cape Town.

Police are trying to piece together what led to the murders of two women and two men, believed to be from Bulgaria, in an upmarket Cape Town suburb.

Their four bodies, with gunshot wounds, were discovered in Constantia around 8.20am on Thursday 25 May.

About four hours later, Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut said crime scene experts were still working at the site.

Detectives searching for clues

“The motive for the multiple murders is yet to be determined, with detectives hard at work in search of clues,” he said.

“Serious and Violent Crime detectives have initiated an investigation into the murders.”

It was estimated the murdered men and women were between 40 and 50 years old.

Crime scene experts process a multiple murder scene in Constantia on 25 May 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. It is reported that two women and two men believed to be from Bulgaria were discovered with gunshot wounds. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Police at the murder scene involving four foreign nationals in Constantia on 25 May 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) 

‘Wanted over murder’

While police did not identify the four, publications in Bulgaria named a suspect wanted by Interpol as having been murdered, along with his family.

The publication Novinite reported: “[He] was accused in absentia by the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office as a guarantor of the murder of Lyubomir Ivanov, a former employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who was very publicly shot in Sofia at the beginning of 2022.

“At the end of April, he was put on a red notice by Interpol. At the same time, the prosecution accused [him] of being part of a conspiracy, with the participation of other criminals… in a conspiracy to discredit senior magistrates and police officers.”

An Interpol red notice said the man was wanted for a murder threat, extortion and murder.

Daily Maverick was unable to immediately confirm the identities of those killed in Constantia — and Western Cape police said these details would likely not be disclosed on Thursday — and has therefore redacted the name reported on in Bulgarian media.

Meanwhile, another shooting, that involved a couple from Bulgaria, played out about five years ago in a suburb that is near the one where the four murder victims were discovered on Thursday.

Double assassination

In that previous case, Angelo Dimov and his wife Nezabravka ‘Nessie’ Peeva were assassinated on 12 February 2018 in a home they were renting in Bergvliet, which is about five kilometres from Constantia.

That matter appeared to be linked to organised crime.

At the time, Dimov had been facing criminal charges relating to a credit card scam in a case that dated back to 2008.

There were also suspicions in police circles that he was involved in the illicit diamond trade and drug smuggling.

Bulgarians have before been linked to drug crimes in South Africa.

A massive cocaine consignment worth R583-million was found on a vessel off Saldanha Bay in 2021.

Three Bulgarians — Mario Vasev, Atanas Bikov and Ivanov — went on to be convicted. 

Steroid King

In this journalist’s book, Clash of the Cartels: Unmasking the global drug kingpins stalking South Africa, a chapter focuses on Bulgaria.

It said: “Credit card crimes, strip club shenanigans and drug and diamond dealing are the most frequently mentioned misdemeanours that crop up in relation to Bulgarian underworld figures in SA.”

The book also said that, in the case of Dimov, some figures with links to the underworld had known him as “the ecstasy guy” because he could easily procure the drug.

There were also suspicions Dimov had been working with the 28s gang and Brian Wainstein, a steroid smuggler also known as the Steroid King, who was assassinated in his home in August 2017.

Wainstein had lived in Constantia, the same suburb where the four bodies with gunshot wounds were discovered on Thursday. DM

Caryn Dolley has spent years tracing the footprints of crime/drug kingpins from across the world. In her latest book, Clash of the Cartels, Dolley provides unprecedented insight into how specific drug cartels and syndicates have operated via South Africa, becoming embroiled in deadly violence in the country and bolstering local criminal networks. Available now from the Daily Maverick Shop.

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