The Star Late Edition
Businessman murdered in a dark alley
IT’S A classic hodunnit: a prominent Joburg businessman shot dead in a dark alley in the middle of the night.
Police detectives are investigating the possibility of a botched “blue-light gang” robbery, with a witness saying he saw a dark Audi pulling away from the scene with police lights flashing on its dashboard.
Another possibility is that 54year-old Peter Granat was somehow lured into the alley.
Police can’t, at this stage, exclude any scenario in their probe.
What is known is that Granat’s body was discovered in a service alley between Bolton and Wells streets in Parkwood at about 10.30pm on Monday.
He had apparently been killed by a single gunshot to the head. His body lay next to his white Land Cruiser. An unused round lay nearby.
A security guard stationed near the alley told The Star this morning that he saw the Audi speeding away from the scene.
“The blue lights were in the front of the Audi and I thought it was the police busy with the guy in the Land Cruiser,” he said.
The guard, who was on duty at the time, said he did not witness the murder or hear the gunshot. But he did say the Audi was “rushing” out of the alley.
He then went to see what had happened and remembered seeing the victim lying near his car.
A woman who works in the area said witnesses were convinced that Granat had spoken to people in the Audi before being shot in the head.
Granat, the managing director of auto spares distributor AutoZone, was based in City Deep and, according to the police, was alone when he was attacked.
Work colleagues and the family’s lawyer could not say where he was driving to alone at that time.
His family were away on holiday. Granat lived in Hyde Park, several kilometres from where he was killed.
Recently, a warning had gone out to Sandton residents to be on the lookout for a gang of hijackers dressed in police uniform and using fake police lights.
The warning claimed that the gang was known to abduct their victims, drive around with them for several hours and them dump them in remote spots.
It is not known whether Granat was “pulled over” somewhere else, kept hostage and taken to the alley or whether he had followed what he believed to be a police car into the alley.
“We are investigating a murder. Our investigations will guide us as to what happened,” police spokeswoman Captain Cynthia Magoai said this morning.
Pushed on a motive, she said: “There is a possibility of a robbery. We are investigating that.”
She would not say whether other motives, such as a hit, have been excluded.
Magoai confirmed that fake police blue lights formed part of the investigation, but said it could not be confirmed whether they were used. No arrests have been made. Granat’s death comes in the wake of an e-mail from the Sunninghill Community Association that warned of an “alarming trend” noted by Sandton police.
It said several hijackings in Sandton, Randburg, Douglasdale and Midrand were being carried out by thugs in “unmarked vehicles with blue lights on the dashboard”.
The e-mail alert said cars like Audi A4s, VW Golfs and Toyota RunXs were targeted.
Police spokesman Superintendent Eugene Opperman said people should try to ask officers for proper identification, in the form of an appointment certificate. Failing that, they could drive slowly to a petrol station, shopping centre, fire station or police station – “anywhere where there is people”.
The e-mail advised people to call 10111 before stopping anywhere.
Granat’s family lawyer, Michael Young, flew to Cape Town yesterday to escort the businessman’s wife and children home. He said the family were shocked. Granat has two sons and a daughter.
Young said he knew little about the circumstances of the murder.
Peter Mountford, chief executive of the Super Group – which controls AutoZone – said: “We’re devastated. Our thoughts go out to his family.”