Krejcir co-accused ‘coerced’Comment on this story
Johannesburg - Desai Luphondo, a co-accused of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, was coerced into making a statement following his arrest, the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in Palm Ridge, heard on Thursday.
“We are objecting that it was not freely and voluntarily made. It was made under undue influence,” said Annelene van den Heever, for Krejcir and Luphondo.
Luphondo and Van den Heever listed members of the police tactical response team who were in court, and said they were also present when he was arrested and a statement taken from him.
She said these officers were witnesses and should not be in court when Luphondo's statement was considered as evidence next week.
She said she would use cellphone and car tracking records of the police's tactical response team to prove who the officers were.
“We believe that the alternative tracking records of vehicles that were used during the arrest would prove those named were part of the arrest team right through to when the statement was made,” she said.
“Tactical response team members had cellphones on them and some in fact used them.”
Van den Heever added she did not have the registration numbers of the cars used on the day as they were regularly changed. She however gave the makes of the cars.
“There was a BMW 330i that was driven by the investigating officer fitted with a Free State registration, a Ford Focus, VW Golf, 4x4 Toyota, Nissan Navara, Mercedes-Benz Vito, Ford Everest, and a VW Jetta,” she said.
The State had earlier asked to bring an application for the admission of the bail records of some of the accused as evidence. Van den Heever then objected, saying Luphondo's statement was not made freely.
Krejcir, Luphondo, Warrant Officers Samuel “Saddam” Maropeng and George Nthoroane, Jan Lefu Mofokeng, and Siboniso Miya face charges of kidnapping, attempted murder, and dealing in drugs. All have denied guilt.
They allegedly recruited a man known only as Doctor to help smuggle 25kg of tik (methamphetamine) to Australia. Doctor, who worked for a cargo company at OR Tambo International Airport, disappeared with the shipment. The six then allegedly kidnapped and tortured Doctor's brother, Bheki Lukhele, in a bid to have him reveal his sibling's whereabouts.
The pointing out of officers proved to be a sensitive issue when Van den Heever asked that those named be removed from the court room.
Judge Colin Lamont refused, saying it would compromise security.
“Are you saying we must reduce the security in the court? There is no way security in this court is being reduced,” Lamont said.
“You remember there was an incident with me. If you say security must be reduced, it won't happen easily.”
On Wednesday, police spokesman Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale said security for Lamont had been increased. This was after while driving home, he heard a bang and realised his car window had cracked.
On Thursday another of Krejcir's lawyers, Piet du Plessis, told reporters they had met Lamont to discuss his security. Lamont had told them he did not believe the incident was related to the case.
“We have spoken to the judge and he is not alleging it was in any manner related to this case,” Du Plessis said.
The case was postponed to Monday.
The postponement was to allow the State enough time to consult the officers named and to allow for security to be examined.