Pete Mihalik murder clues in suspect's fancy shoes
Police say evidence includes footage of suspect wearing Puma sneakers
The hitman who shot Cape Town lawyer Pete Mihalik last year may have been on target, but his pricey sneakers could turn out to be a fashion mistake.
Police say the hitman caught on camera murdering Mihalik in Green Point in October was Sizwe Biyela, 27, and he was wearing black Puma sneakers and a watch from the retailer Markham.
After arresting Biyela, police confiscated his watch and shoes as evidence, which explains why the alleged gunman made his first court appearance wearing just socks.
Even more crucial evidence, according to investigating officer Lt Col Charl Kinnear, was provided by one of the alleged masterminds of the hit on Mihalik, Cape Town taxi boss Vuyile Maliti.
In an affidavit filed during the alleged killers' bail hearing in Cape Town magistrate's court this week, Kinnear says Maliti used his true identity in transactions linked to the killing.
The 35-year-old allegedly recruited Biyela and Nkosinathi Khumalo, 32, both from KwaZulu-Natal, to kill Mihalik.
The 50-year-old advocate, who during his 20-year career at the Cape Bar represented several clients alleged to be hard-core gang bosses, was killed as he dropped his son and teenage daughter at Reddam House school on October 30. A gunman walked up to his Mercedes-Benz GLE 63 and fired two shots through the driver's window before fleeing in a silver Volkswagen Polo.
The three men are facing charges including murder, two counts of attempted murder and possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition. Mihalik's eight-year-old son was hit by bullet fragments.
In a statement read by prosecutor Helene Booysen, Kinnear says the men reconnoitred the crime scene the day before the shooting.
"Several sources of video footage were viewed. It can been seen that the silver-grey Volkswagen Polo and silver-grey Renault Clio drove together in Upper Portswood Road, Green Point, in the direction of Thornhill Road where advocate Mihalik was shot," Kinnear says.
Evidence before court shows the three men called each other on their cellphones before and after the shooting, and that they travelled together.
Kinnear says it was through cellphone tracking that he was able to nab Biyela before he boarded a bus to Durban.
He also established that after the shooting, Maliti and Biyela travelled together to Kenilworth, where the taxi boss sold Krugerrands, and to "business premises in Claremont … where they received money".
He says the Krugerrand transaction was corroborated by witnesses.
"Vuyile Maliti was paid R200,000 [for the coins]. He provided a copy of his temporary driver's licence."
Kinnear says information gathered by police intelligence showed that Khumalo, a taxi driver, "is a known 'hitman' … and his services [are] normally made use of by taxi owners in the greater Durban area". He was out on bail in a murder case in Eshowe when Mihalik was killed.
Biyela faces arrest for two murders and an attempted murder in Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal.
Maliti was given a five-year suspended prison sentence for theft in 2017. He was out on bail in a car theft case at the time of Mihalik's death.
Kinnear says Biyela and Khumalo had given statements admitting to the killing and claiming Maliti recruited them.
"Khumalo said that [we] must go to Sea Point, that there was a white man that had to be shot," Kinnear says Biyela told him. He says Khumalo told him Maliti had provided the gun used in the shooting.
Kinnear opposed the bail application. He says Maliti hired the vehicles used in the murder and changed their registration plates to make it difficult to trace them.
"The accused are aware that there were minor children with the deceased in his vehicle when he was shot," says Kinnear. "[Biyela and Khumalo] are ruthless hitmen and killers for hire. [Maliti] ably assisted them and collected the fee … before fleeing the province."
Biyela said police had forced him to make the statement, telling him "I would be sent to Pollsmoor and my life would be in danger". Maliti denied any involvement in the murder and Khumalo said he would plead not guilty.
The bail application was postponed to May 10.