New Krejcir witness takes stand

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Copy of st p2main Krejcir bail 03.JPG INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Radovan Krejcir File picture: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - Another State witness took the stand on Thursday in the trial of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir and five others in the High Court in Johannesburg sitting in Palm Ridge.

Paul Mthabela was testifying in exchange for possible immunity from prosecution. Judge Collin Lamont ordered that photos of his face not be published in the media.

Mthabela was allegedly connected to Vusi Peter Msimango, a self-confessed former criminal who was the first State witness to testify in the trial.

Mthabela told the court that he received a call from Desai Luphondo in June last year.

Luphondo, the second accused in the trial, told him he needed his help.

He said a young man known as Doctor, who he had paid to place a bag of drugs on a plane to Australia, had failed to do so. Doctor worked for a cargo company at OR Tambo International Airport. Luphondo said Doctor told him police at the airport arrested him, Mthabela said.

They took the drugs as well as the R70,000 he had been paid to transport the drugs, which allegedly belonged to Krejcir.

Mthabela called his friend, Msimango to help find the drugs.

He explained how he, Luphondo, and Msimango had met Doctor at a filling station in Katlehong.

“Desai told Doctor 'you'll get me killed. Let's go to the white man so you can explain to him what happened',” said Mthabela. The white man he was referring to was Krejcir.

“He told Doctor that the white man wants to put you under a machine... A lie detector test to see if you're telling the truth,” Mthabela testified through an interpreter.

Another man who was with Doctor during this confrontation had said his brother was not going anywhere as Krejcir could kill him.

The three men went looking for Doctor the next day and were told by his grandmother that he had left for KwaZulu-Natal.

Doctor no longer answered their calls and was not at reporting for duty at the airport.

The next day Msimango joked as he told Mthabela how he and police officers driving in expensive cars had gone to kidnap Doctor's brother, Bheki Lukhele, from his home in Katlehong the previous night.

“He said Radovan Krejcir had burned the youngster with boiling water,” said Mthabela.

Msimango then took him to what they referred to as a safe house, where Lukhele was being kept captive under the watch of Luphondo.

He found Lukhele with his face covered and his hands bound behind his back.

“Desai explained what (Msimango) had told me. He said the white man was cold-hearted. He had assaulted the youngster,” said Mthabela.

He told the court he could see the wounds on Lukhele's head.

“Desai said he would get the boy pills and some ointment. He said this was unfortunate. It wasn't meant to happen,” Mthabela testified.

Krejcir, Luphondo, warrant officers Samuel Maropeng and George Nthoroane, Jan Lefu Mofokeng, and Siboniso Miya are charged with Lukhele's kidnapping, assault, and attempted murder. They also face charges of dealing in drugs. All six men have pleaded not guilty.

The trial continues.

Sapa



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