The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Thursday said four people “believed to be of Bulgarian origin,” were found shot dead in an upscale neighborhood in Cape Town.
Police did not identify the victims but said two men and two women aged between 40 and 50 were discovered in Constantia, located about 23 kilometers (approximately 14 miles) away from Cape Town city centre.
According to the police, all the deceased had gunshot wounds.
“The motive for many of the murders remains undetermined, with detectives working hard to find clues. Serious and Violent Crime detectives have begun an investigation into the murders,” SAPS said in a statement.
One of the dead was reportedly a Bulgarian underworld figure
The AFP news agency reported that one of the dead is believed to be a high-profile Bulgarian organized crime figure, citing judicial and government sources in Sofia.
While there was no confirmation from local authorities that he was among the dead, English-language publications NEwS in Bulgaria reported the same, as did other local media.
Interpol also has an international arrest warrant for the man in question on charges including murder and extortion.
Cape Town’s criminal underbelly
While Cape Town is a popular tourist hotspot, it is also a port city that finds itself at the heart of turf wars involving criminal syndicates, vying for control of the lucrative drug trade and other rackets.
In February 2018, a Bulgarian couple was shot dead in the Cape Town suburb of Bergvliet, not far from where the latest killings took place. The husband in the case faces charges related to a credit card fraud syndicate.
In 2021 three Bulgarian nationals were sentenced to 60 years in prison after being caught with bricks of cocaine with an estimated value of R580 million ($29.3 million) in Saldanha Bay, located north of Cape Town.
South African publication Time LIVE also reported on the “infiltration” of the Bulgarian mafia in South Africa in a podcast series.