Johannesburg - Police are believed to be looking for a special effects film-maker who they suspect is responsible for weaponising the vehicle used to attack notorious Czech businessman Radovan Krejcir.
The Star has learnt that the attempted hit on Krejcir on Wednesday may be linked to the Cape Town movie industry.
The attempted assassination wouldn’t have been out of place in a James Bond movie, with Krejcir narrowly escaping death by a remote-controlled automatic weapon built into a parked car.
Krejcir, a director of Moneypoint – a gold and diamonds pawn shop on Bradford Road in Bedfordview – had been visiting the business at the time.
He drove his black Mercedes-Benz AMG into the parking lot of the business between 10.30am and 11am, parking perpendicular to a red VW Polo Cross.
Business agents at Remax One, which shares the premises with Moneypoint, told The Star they had noticed the vehicle in the past three to four days, but each had assumed the car’s driver was visiting the other businesses.
Wednesday morning, its back was positioned opposite to where Krejcir was about to park, outside the Remax real estate building.
Krejcir told The Star he was taking a phone call after having just got out of his vehicle.
He said he had taken three steps when he heard a loud “popping” noise that he initially thought could be fireworks.
Unaware of the danger, he continued his phone call.
Then bullets flew from a dozen gun barrels built onto the inside of the VW Polo, just behind the licence plate.
“It was like something from a movie,” said Krejcir, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s definitely a professional job.”
Krejcir said he realised that he had just had an attempt hit on his life only when he saw a string of bullet dents lining the driver’s side and back passenger-side windows.
A remote control was used in the attack.
The Polo burst into flames. Its licence plate was blown off and part of the back of the car melted from the intense heat.
The projectiles were unable to pierce Krejcir’s R1.7 million bullet-proof car, but The Star counted at least 24 holes on windows and walls surrounding it. No one was hurt.
Meeting journalists from The Star in his office, flanked by two associates, Krejcir said: “I don’t know who did it, but if I did I wouldn’t tell you.”
Puffing on a cigarette, he was cheerful and joked that he would start going to church.
“It was a surprise for me, but I am not gonna get some bodyguards or anything like that.”
He added “we” should just let the police do their job.
Estate agents at Remax One said the VW Polo was not there in the morning and must have re-entered the premises between 9am and 10.30am.
“We ran out when we heard a bang and more popping sounds and saw the car on fire,” said Jarrid Rahme.
Police said the weapon itself was a battery-operated, remote-controlled device that ran on two batteries similar to those used in public phones.
At the time of publication, no arrests had been made.
A case of attempted murder has been opened.
A sourceclose to the investigation told the Star that the attack may be linked to Krejcir’s dealings with Cape Town gangsters over territory.
The source indicated that Krejcir had allegedly met with one of Cape Town’s most notorious members of the underworld at Emperors Palace last week – in an attempt to iron out their differences.
“It didn’t go well,” said the source. “It’s understood the alleged gang leader is currently out of the country.”
Security expert Paul O’Sullivan said: “It’s a disgraceful use of state resources, which would not be necessary if this gangster had been sent packing the day he arrived (in South Africa).
“While I’m not in agreement with anybody being murdered, it’s clear that this thug has developed many enemies as a result of his crime wave in South Africa and elsewhere.
“If the gangsters have to kill each other, I say please do not hurt innocent people in the process. And when there’s only one left, we should give him life for murder,” he said.
The attempted hit comes just a week after it was revealed that sleaze king Lolly Jackson’s suspected killer, George Louca, is scheduled to be extradited from Cyprus to South Africa.
He is expected to reveal in court details of the local criminal underworld.
Krejcir has been in the media spotlight for years, fleeing the Czech Republic after allegedly defrauding the government of more than R225m.
In December, he was convicted in his absence in Prague for money laundering and sentenced to 11 years behind bars.
Krejcir is at present fighting an attempt to have him extradited to the Czech Republic.