Police are searching for the killer of a British-Australian investment banker who was found tortured and strangled in his rented apartment in Sandton, Johannesburg.
James Starkey, 36, from Woolwich in east London, was visiting South Africa for a three-month management consultant project and staying at the Raphael Penthouse Suites complex near Nelson Mandela Square.
He is believed to have been killed after inviting a guest up to his apartment.
His body was discovered by a colleague who asked the complex staff to open his door after he failed to arrive at work on October 8.
Police are still to determine the cause of his death but a source at the complex said the scene that greeted them was “hectic”.
A paramedic called to assist police told one of Starkey’s colleagues the banker had burn marks on his body and appeared to have been strangled.
No motive has been made public. Police said they found no evidence of a sexual assault and refused to say if anything had been stolen.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said detectives were studying CCTV footage from the entrance to the complex. “No suspect or suspects have been identified,” he said.
“Details of the cause of death will be released to the family once it has been obtained from the Department of Health.”
The murder occurred just days after thousands of delegates from around the world converged on Sandton for the 17th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
The suites, opposite Sandton City boast “tight, highly effective, and extremely efficient security”, including 24-hour armed guards and a biometric access system.
Starkey’s family said in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald: “We are shocked this occurred as the apartment, organised by Catalyst, was a high-security residence in the tourist district.
“Words cannot describe how devastated we are … James lived life to the full and had everything to live for, having recently become engaged and planning to return to Australia in the near future.”
A spokesman for the Legacy hotel group, which manages the apartment complex on behalf of private owners, suggested Starkey had been hosting “an invited guest” when he was killed.
“We are not in the habit of presuming to tell occupants who they should or should not have visit them,” said Legacy general manager, David Stroud.
“This incident was not a breach of security in the building and took place between the tenant and his guest in a private apartment.”
Starkey was two months into a three-month assignment for UK financial services firm Catalyst.