Johannesburg - Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir has been successfully dodging bullets – literally and figuratively – since his arrival in South Africa almost a decade ago.
After numerous police investigations against him fell apart over the past eight years, the long arm of the law finally caught up with Krejcir on Monday when he was convicted. The suspected underworld kingpin was officially named a criminal.
More than 140 days of court proceedings saw Krejcir, Sandton businessman Desai Luphondo, Siboniso Miya, and Germiston organised-crime police officers Samuel Maruping, Jeff Nthoroane and Lefu Mofokeng all face charges of attempted murder, kidnapping and drug dealing.
On Monday in the high court in Joburg, Judge Colin Lamont found all six men guilty of kidnapping and five guilty of attempted murder, except Nthoroane, who was found guilty of common assault.
Lastly, he found Luphondo guilty on the drug dealing charge. As Krejcir and Miya were aware of the contents of the package set to be smuggled and assisted in the plot, they were found guilty of attempted drug possession.
The group were involved in the kidnapping of Bhekithemba Lukhele, whose brother Bhekisizwe Doctor Nkosi had stolen and fled with a large supply of crystal meth worth millions of rand from Krejcir. The loot was originally set to be sold in Australia.
Judge Lamont’s lengthy judgment affirmed the State’s fully protected witnesses, Nkosi and Lukhele, as well as henchmen Peter Msimango and Paul Mathabela, who assisted in the kidnapping and witnessed the torture.
The judge declared all four to be reliable, trustworthy witnesses, as each had managed to help piece together the puzzle of the abduction, where Lukhele was taken from his home.
He was subjected to beatings, manhandling, and Krejcir poured boiling water on his head in a bid to discover Nkosi’s whereabouts.
The judge believed that any of the discrepancies in the State witnesses’ written testimony were due to shoddy work by the investigators taking statements and did not indicate any untruths.
Judge Lamont said that while the police investigation had put the State’s case at serious risk, there was no conspiracy against the accused, as Krejcir’s defence team had suggested.
He said it was unlikely the naive Nkosi, who worked at OR Tambo International Airport and was approached to help smuggle the drug shipment out of the country, had dreamt up the plan on his own.
He discounted Luphondo’s claims that the men were searching for Nkosi to reclaim money he had borrowed from the businessman.
The judge also didn’t believe Krejcir’s story that even though the torture took place on his business’s property, he was not present.
“I find it unlikely (Krejcir) was lounging around the Moneypoint offices,” said Judge Lamont.
Krejcir, not a stranger to court proceedings, did not appear fazed by the judgment.
Approached by journalists afterwards, he said he was shocked because “lies and hate have won over truth and love”.
“I believe we will appeal this judgment,” he added, with Luphondo interjecting: “And we will win.”
As the men returned to the holding cells, the look of satisfaction on prosecutor Louis Mashiane’s face was tangible.
While Mashiane was unable to speak to the media on the record, the National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman, Phindi Louw, expressed the organisation’s happiness at Judge Lamont’s decision.
“It has been a long journey. It stretched the State’s resources, but we are glad we are close to the end,” she said.
Sentencing proceedings for the men will continue on September 11, when Krejcir’s lawyer, Annelene van den Heever, is expected to apply for leave to appeal.
While Radovan Krejcir has been convicted of attempted murder, kidnapping and attempted drug possession, he’ll be returning to the dock for three other criminal cases:
* The murder of alleged Ekurhuleni drug dealer Sam Issa, who was gunned down in Bedfordview in 2013 (see picture). Krejcir is expected to continue his bail application on Wednesday.
* The conspiracy to murder private security consultant Paul O’Sullivanand top cop Colonel Nkosana “Killer” Ximba.
* The murder of Phumlani Ncube, a Zimbabwean debt collector who was killed in July 2013.
Meanwhile, it’s understood that police are investigating Krejcir for his role in the several other high-profile murders, including that of Cape Town security company owner Cyril Beeka, strip club boss Lolly Jackson, German supercar specialist Uwe Gemballa, lawyer Ian Jordaan and drug dealer Chris Kouremetis.