Mafia-style killings stun Constantia

The killing of four people, including a Bulgarian fugitive, in Constantia’s Evergreen Lane has sent shockwaves through the community. Picture: Janice Matthews

Bulgarian fugitive Krasimir Nikolaev Kamenov’s neighbours say they had their suspicions about the goings-on at the upmarket Constantia home where he and three others were gunned down in what resembled a mafia-style hit last week.

Kamenov, 55, along with another man and two women, all Bulgarian nationals, were shot dead at the Evergreen Lane house on Thursday morning May 25, say police.

An Interpol Red Notice was issued for Kamenov in April. He was accused of murder, extortion and making death threats.

Bulgarian National TV reported that Kamenov was accused of killing a police officer and that he was implicated in a plot to discredit senior magistrates and prosecutor-general General Ivan Geshev.

While police have yet to confirm the identities of the other victims, Bulgarian media reports have identified them as Kamenov’s wife, housekeeper, and bodyguard.

“Due to the sensitive nature of serious and violent crimes, and the premature stage of the investigation, this office is not in a position to disclose the finer aspects of the case as yet. As the investigation unfolds, this stance could be reconsidered,” said provincial police spokesman Colonel André Traut.

The killings have shocked the community. Some of Kamenov’s neighbours were too fearful to comment, and those who did speak did not want their names published.

“Criminals are all over, that is life in South Africa,” said one of the neighbours who added that he and other residents had suspected murky dealings at the house.

“The family usually kept to themselves. You never saw the kids but often saw the wife running with their silver pit bull when walking the dogs in the morning. You could see what was going on. Every day, cars would be parked from one corner to the other; men carrying backpacks entered the property. I suspected it was a group of mafia.”

Someone who works in the area said, “That is the only house in the road that I see where there are 16 security cameras.”

Most homes in the area only have one or two cameras strategically placed in front of their pedestrian or driveway gates, but the Bulletin could find at least seven on the street-facing boundary of the Evergreen Lane house.

A resident who recently moved to the area said: “It is a bit worrying, but we haven’t been here long enough. This is the first thing that has happened in the area. We already had plans to improve our security when we bought the house. The previous owners had quite a bit of security, but we do want to put in more.”

Ward councillor Emile Langenhoven said the killings had drawn a muted response from his constituents.

“This can be viewed in one of two ways: either residents are relieved that a threat has been eliminated from their community, however violently that may have been, or residents are fearful of coming forward and speaking about the murders in case they are identified as informants.

“I understand any reluctance in coming forward with information. We have seen whistle-blowers murdered in South Africa for less, and there is very little protection offered by the SAPS for those who may want to speak and become witnesses.

“On the same day this quadruple murder occurred, a woman who was a State’s witness in a criminal case, was murdered after leaving the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

“Of course, we want residents to do the right thing and provide information to the SAPS, but there has to be judicial and SAPS reforms made to protect witnesses against such violence.”

Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association chairwoman Sheila Camerer said monthly security reports from Constantia Watch showed crime remained relatively low in Constantia with three-to-four incidents reported a month and those were most often petty crimes.

“To my knowledge, Constantia Watch and SAPS were aware and keeping a watchful eye on the inhabitants of the property on Evergreen Lane. High-profile crime in Constantia is very unusual,” she said. “This certainly looks like a hit.”

Krasimir Nikolaev Kamenov, who was wanted by Interpol, was gunned down in Constantia last week. Picture: