Krejcir: I am no angel. But I'm not the devil
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"I am no angel," Radovan Krejcir concedes. "But I'm not the devil." There are those who might disagree, however, and the name of the shadowy Czech billionaire crops up in the dockets of at least three police task teams investigating a variety of matters ranging from murder to money laundering, smuggling, fraud and corruption.
Included are the sensational murder of Joburg sleaze king Lolly Jackson in May, the shooting of underworld private investigator Kevin Trytsman in December, the baffling disappearance of German supercar conversion specialist Uwe Gemballa from OR Tambo Airport in February, and a money-laundering scam run through the Cypriot Laiki Bank.
In a case that comes before the high court this week, the National Prosecuting Authority has taken the unusual step of appealing against the decision of a South African court not to accede to a request for Krejcir's extradition to his native Czech Republic.
The NPA wants him sent back to his homeland to face the wrath of an administration Krejcir once funded, then fell out with, fleeing first to European destinations, then to the sunny Seychelles, wheeling and dealing in the circle around the then president, France-Albert René.
Again forced to flee after things went sour with René, Krejcir landed in South Africa as an asylum seeker, claiming political victimisation on two continents.
This week Krejcir's asylum-seeker status was supported with the granting of a high court interdict, prohibiting the police and the Department of Home Affairs from arresting or deporting him on immigration charges before refugee hearings, scheduled for November.
So he is safe for now. Or is he?
In Bedford View's Harbour Café, where Krejcir lives large and holds court - running up a hospitality bill of about R150 000 a month, he has had bulletproof glass installed to screen off his private suite from potential threats from the road.
Smiling, Krejcir dismisses the security measure as a sop to his wife Katerina's anxieties. She insisted, he says, that he take precautions.
"But I hardly ever go there behind the glass," Krejcir says. "I do not really have enemies here."
But in the next breath Krejcir says he has already survived three attempts to kidnap him and return him to the Czech Republic.
In the latest incident, he claims, Russian mercenaries were unleashed, though headed off in time.
He also talks of snipers renting flats across the road from the restaurant.
For their part, the Czechs claim they want Krejcir for murder as well as the looting of state coffers and money laundering. In Krejcir's version, however, the vendetta centres on a piece of paper - a piece of paper so important that he is sure he will be killed if he is extradited.
"I will never be allowed to walk around in my country as a free man. If I am forced back there I will be killed on the way to court or before that in the police cells."
As Krejcir tells it, he supported the then Czech opposition in 2002, using his money and power to bring Stanislav Gross to power as prime minister. In return for Krejcir's backing, the new government, he claims, signed a promissory note for 60 million Czech crowns and are now reneging.
"They still owe me that money, but they want that note back, and anyway I know too much," he says, claiming that his father was killed in an abortive attempt to secure that promissory note.
According to the Czech authorities, Krejcir was himself connected to his father's killing.
Equally elusive are Krejcir's dealings in South Africa.
By his account it was when he was arrested on immigration fraud charges in 2007 after arriving here from the Seychelles that he first bumped into Jackson's alleged killer, the Cypriot Giorgios Louka, aka George Smith. Spending a month together in the holding cells at Kempton Park police station, he says, the two developed a strong bond.
"When we got out of jail it was George who showed me around town. It was he who suggested |I should settle in Bedfordview and it was he who took me to Kloof Road in Bedfordview and told |me to buy a house here," Krejcir says.
A one-time special forces soldier, Smith has been described in affidavits in the possession of The Sunday Independent as Krejcir's enforcer-in-chief, but according to him, Smith was Jackson's strong-arm man.
"He and Lolly were involved in some heavy stuff like debt collecting and other heavy-handed activities and I did not want anything to do with that."
Another connection he seeks to explain away is that with Gauteng police intelligence boss Major General Joey Mabasa. It was the attorney Ian Small-Smith, he says, who introduced them. It was at a time when he feared kidnapping or death at the hands of Czech secret agents.
"I needed a contact in the police to help me secure my safety in the country. Joey is a good policeman who was always prepared to help me if I felt my life was threatened," he says.
And, he says, the connection of his wife, Katerina, and Mabasa's wife, Dorcas, in a business entity called Radlochron is equally innocent.
The two women, he says, met at Eastgate Shopping Mall, and planned to go into a business selling energy drinks.
Nothing came of the venture, though, he says. At the time Katerina was pregnant with their son Damian, now 10 months old, and chose instead, after he was born, to open a beauty salon in Pretoria.
Even so, the Czech lives large. He has the wherewithal to indulge his passion for supercars, and, by his account, has managed to bring about R60 million of his fortune into South Africa.
Legally, of course.
"And I paid taxes on it as well. Go and ask Sars (the SA Revenue Service)."