- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPHJOHANNESBURG — The cold-blooded assassination of one of Johannesburg’s most prominent socialites last week has exposed the scale of organized crime among South Africa’s white elite.Hazel Crane was fatally shot at the wheel of her Mercedes-Benz as she drove to court to give evidence against a diamond dealer accused of killing her ex-husband. Two other crucial witnesses have been silenced in “hits” thought to have been ordered by Israeli gangsters with links to illicit diamond smuggling.The slaying shocked South Africans, as many learned for the first time of the existence of ruthless Israeli mobs in their midst.Links stretch from South Africa, where many of the world’s diamonds are mined, to Tel Aviv, which has become a center for laundering diamonds mined in war-torn countries such as Sierra Leone and the Congo. These jewels cannot be exported legally because of international sanctions.”Until now, the Israeli gangs have kept a very low profile,” said Peter Gastrow, a leading adviser on organized crime to government and industry. “But this murder shows how ruthless they are capable of being. White South Africans are accustomed to hearing about Nigerian … gangs, but this is completely different.”Mrs. Crane, 56, who was a close friend of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the disgraced ex-wife of former South African President Nelson Mandela, was shot last Monday in Johannesburg after leaving for court. For the first time in weeks, she was without her private bodyguards, prompting speculation that they had been bought off.

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