Another deadly Krejcir drama
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Someone walked into Radovan Krejcir’s business in Bedfordview and announced there was a bomb in the bag he was carrying.
Seconds later, there was a loud explosion that residents 2km away said they heard.
Two people caught in the blast died on the scene, three others were taken to hospital with critical injuries and two were mildly injured.
This is what police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said on Tuesday night outside Krejcir’s business, the Money Point opposite Eastgate Mall. Krejcir was not at the business when the blast took place.
The controversial businessman has spent the past six years fighting the Czech Republic’s attempts to extradite him.
His homeland wants him returned to face a series of charges that he claims were trumped up because of his involvement in a political scandal.
Forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan said he had reliably learnt that the lease at Money Point was to expire at the end of the month and the owners of the building had indicated they would not be renewing the lease.
The blast took place at 5.20pm, but forensic investigators and the bomb unit came out of the building only at 8pm, after searching for a suspected second device.
Two sources who know the staff at Money Point, a gold exchange, diamonds and loan business, told The Star that one of those killed was one of Krejcir’s senior employees.
Malila said they were still in the early stages of their investigation and had not made any arrests.
He said police were not yet aware of the identities of those hurt and did not know Krejcir’s whereabouts.
Malila said the police did not know if anything had been taken.
Police will be interviewing those in hospital for more information.
Residents in the area told The Star events linked to Krejcir had made them fearful of living in the area.
“I’ve lived in this area all my life. My children come to the mall at night. Now I’m very worried,” one woman said.
O’Sullivan, who was at the scene of the bombing, said 10 of the people murdered had one link or another to Krejcir, “and tonight’s casualties adds to 12”.
O’Sullivan said it was premature to assume the bombing was intended to kill Krejcir.
“We should wait until the investigation is completed to see if this was an attempt on his life,” said O’Sullivan. “Are people going to go to the trouble of setting a bomb and not kill him?”
He said he had been investigating Krejcir for five years and his hope was that the man would be extradited.
Independent organised crime investigator Chad Thomas, from IRS Forensic Investigations, said Krejcir needed to be taken into protective custody if Tuesday night’s explosion was not staged, “until such time as his refugee status is either confirmed or he gets deported to the Czech Republic”.
The explosion comes barely a week after Veselin Laganin was shot dead in his Bedfordview home in the early hours of November 2 during a robbery.
That murder took place less than a month after another businessman linked to Krejcir, Bassam Issa, was gunned down near Laganin’s home in what appeared to be a hit.
In July, there was a bizarre attempt on Krejcir’s life.
The Czech referred to the incident as James Bond-like.
Krejcir escaped harm when explosives, detonated remotely, were fired from a device built into a parked car. Krejcir had been visiting Money Point at the time.
About three weeks earlier, the same business premises were broken into and jewellery worth R3 million was stolen.
“It is on the same premises where an attempt to kill him was executed. On July 3, unknown suspects broke in through the roof, cut open a safe and stole jewellery worth about R3 million,” police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said at the time.
On Monday, the case against a man accused of involvement in a plot to kill Krejcir was postponed in the Germiston Regional Court.
After a brief appearance, Brendan Harrison’s case was postponed to November 27.
In August, Harrison was denied bail after investigators claimed his life would be at risk if he was not kept in custody.
The Star’s sister paper, the Saturday Star, previously reported that Harrison was given a job by a former associate of Krejcir in 2011.
Harrison claimed he started to receive threats shortly after taking the job. He then cut all ties with Krejcir and his associates, and left for Swaziland to start his own business. – Additional reporting by Sapa