My friend Pete Mihalik was an extreme realist

When one of his clients was gunned down before the conclusion of a case he seemed stoical about it: “You live by the sword. You die by the sword. Remember to write‚ ‘he died an innocent man’.”

Pete was good at keeping things in separate boxes. After he returned from a year off following a terrible assault‚ he seemed happy to be back. So happy‚ in fact‚ that the alleged perpetrators thought to phone the newspaper and explain themselves. It wasn’t a great explanation.

Pete was an extreme realist‚ maybe because he had a hard time with loss. His mother‚ sister and wife had committed suicide. I fear he might have been scared in his last days but I hope he was not.

I left Cape Town long ago‚ and my knowledge of the underworld is limited to what I have read‚ so I don’t have any secrets to divulge about who was doing what or who was behind Pete’s murder on Tuesday.

There are days I am fearful for the people I have left behind in the city I love – a city now pockmarked with places where beloved friends have died violently.

I don’t know how deep his underworld involvement was. What I do know is that the man who died was a dedicated dad‚ a guy who adored his kids. He would be devastated to know that his child got injured.

I am so heartbroken about what happened. The world has lost a kind man.

* Estelle Ellis is a senior reporter at The Herald in Port Elizabeth

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