Johannesburg - The first time Lyubomir Borislavov Grigorov met Czech underworld kingpin Radovan Krejcir he was in the middle of a business deal involving two jet engines.
Grigorov, a Bulgarian otherwise known to his friends as “Boris or “Mike”, was looking for work, possibly as a runner for the Czech businessman, whose name had become infamous in Bedfordview. Grigorov couldn’t quite remember the date of the meeting, late 2011, maybe 2012, but he remembers the location.
The Harbour Restaurant at the Bedford Centre had been Krejcir’s haunt for years while he ran his gold and diamond exchange shop, Money Point, a few kilometres down the road. Grigorov’s friend Alex had brought him word of the two engines that he was trying to unload on Krejcir.
The outcome of the deal, sadly, remains unexplained in Grigorov’s recent testimony against Krejcir, but it does reveal the Bulgarian runner’s first impression of the larger-than-life suspected mob boss. Krejcir was cordial, he liked the fact that Grigorov didn’t drink or do drugs - too many people in his life were addicted - and he needed a driver.
At first he was hired to take Krejcir’s numerous cars for services, renew licence discs, the occasional errand. For months he would go to the restaurant to meet Krejcir, and started becoming closer. Krejcir trusted Grigorov with his house keys and with locking up his businesses. He was told to quit his job running foreign exchange services at casinos across Gauteng, as better opportunities were on the way.
Eastern European contacts would also visit the restaurant in their dealings with Krejcir, including Bassam “Sam” Issa, the alleged Bedfordview drug dealer whose gruesome killing is at the centre of Krejcir’s murder trial.
Police investigating the death of Sam Issa. File picture: Independent Media
Issa and Krejcir were friendly at first, according to Grigorov, who said they frequented a strip club, the Grand, and Sandton nightclub Taboo. And even when the Czech began to hate and fear Issa, he maintained this friendly facade until the morning of Issa’s death.
Grigorov’s had met Krejcir’s co-accused through his time at Money Point. Mfaniseni Memela, Nkanyiso Mafunda and Siboniso Miya had all visited the business at various times while Grigorov had worked there, with Memela introduced as a “taxi boss hitman”. However, it was Miya who made the most appearances, also a runner for Krejcir.
Sometime in early 2013, it was Miya who was asked to take a white Ford Ranger, the vehicle believed to be used in Issa’s killing, to have blue lights and a siren installed. Grigorov was the one to hand over the R20000 to pay for the modifications. It was only months later that self-confessed hitman and robber, Lucky Mokoena, also now a state witness, entered the picture.
Grigorov believed that Mokoena had been introduced to Krejcir by convicted drug-dealer, Glenn Agliotti, though Agliotti has since denied any knowledge of this. Mokoena had been brought in after a series of arguments between Issa and Krejcir, the first at the Harbour Restaurant where Issa was asking Krejcir to pay back the R500 000 he owed to him.
The money had been loaned to pay bail for Krejcir, who was embroiled in a fraud case at the time, with Krejcir promising his mother, Nadezda, would pay Issa back. However, it seemed the money never came, or Krejcir had simply refused to pay it back. When the argument turned into a shouting match, Issa tried to calm down the situation, though Krejcir was still angry. “Why are you shouting in front of the people, you cockroach?!” he shouted. Grigorov took Issa to another table at the restaurant, where Issa told him he did not believe he would ever see his money again.
Issa refused to pay his bill and left, with Krejcir telling Grigorov that if Issa did not stop “making noise” about the money, his life would be at stake.
A short while later, though, Grigorov was unclear as to exactly when, Issa arrived at Money Point, taking a Versace bracelet from manager Ivan Savov.
He told Savov that Krejcir owed him much more than the worth of the bracelet, a paltry R120 000. Krejcir happened to be in the office at the time, and warned Issa not to involve his business in a personal loan. Clearly wary, Issa returned the bracelet.
The verbal altercation didn’t seem to make Issa that wary, though, as a few days later he was in another meeting with Krejcir, making food for the pair of them in Money Point’s kitchen/café.
Krejcir told him that the R500 000 was “small change”, and that is was unnecessary to pay it back. A short while later, by July 24, 2013, it seemed that Issa had taken this as an insult. As Krejcir was walking through the Money Point parking lot, an automated machine gun hidden behind the licence plate of a Red Polo Cross let off a spray of bullets, narrowly missing the Czech.
“(Krejcir) told me that he is going to use all of his connections to get to the bottom of who tried to kill him,” said Grigorov. He had apparently used one connection at the Germiston Organised Crime Unit, a Colonel Francois Steyn, who later was proven to have taken a loan from Krejcir, to track down who had commissioned the assassination device. All signs pointed to Issa.
The first plan to kill Issa began with Krejcir trying to plant a tracking device on his enemy’s car, though after he and his group were unable to figure out how to get it to operate, the plan had to be changed.
Radovan Krejcir and his son Denis during a court appearance. File picture: Independent Media
The second attempt happened in September 2013, with Lucky Mokoena asked to break into Issa’s home, rob and kill him in what would appear to be a botched armed robbery. While Mokoena agreed to the job, he was unable to kill Issa, instead stealing three kilograms of cocaine, an AK-47, tens of thousands of rand in valuables.
“So (Mokoena) said to me I did not shoot this mlungu, I left him by Bedford Gardens Hospital in his car, cuffed in the back,” said Grigorov.
Krejcir was not amused, though he agreed to forgive Mokoena’s failings if he handed over the AK-47 and some other valuables. “(Krejcir) warned Lucky that if (Issa) finds out that Lucky robbed him, he will come personally to Lucky and he will kill him,” said Grigorov.
On the morning of October 12, Grigorov got a call from Savov explaining that Issa had been killed, shot dead just a few streets away from Money Point.
The night before, Krejcir, Issa and series of other friends and acquaintances had been having a party at Money Point. Grigorov was asked to take Krejcir to his mistress’s home in the early hours of the morning. When Grigorov called Krejcir the following morning about Issa’s death, all he said was: “Okay. You must get ready and come open the shop.”
At the shop, Miya bragged about how he, Memela and Mafunda had opened fire on his Audi Q7 using his own stolen AK-47 and an R5 rifle. Grigorov’s testimony took months to complete, though his version of events will be coming under the microscope on Tuesday when he takes the stand again.
Note: The above article was compiled using months of testimony at Radovan Krejcir’s murder trial, in-between dozens of postponements and court applications. The events as described are from Boris Grigorov’s perspective, which will be tested when next he takes the stand.