Radovan Krejcir’s legal team is fighting for his prison conditions to be improved as they try to have him extradited to his home country. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Radovan Krejcir’s legal team has continued its fight to improve the Czech fugitive’s prison conditions as the Department of Justice looks set to deny his requests to return to his home country to serve out his sentence. 

Last week, the Saturday Star reported that Krejcir and his family in the Czech Republic acquired the services of two of the country’s most well-known lawyers, Eric Mabuza and the EFF’s Dali Mpofu. 

The pair submitted written representations to Minister of Justice Michael Masutha, asking that he extradite Krejcir, who wished to continue serving the remainder of his 35-year prison sentence overseas. 

The duo argued that Krejcir already cost taxpayers more than R200 million because of the massive security detail assigned to him. 

Masutha’s spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said the minister had received the representations, and would respond to Krejcir’s legal team in due course. 

However, the Saturday Star has spoken to two sources linked to the request, both of whom said the minister would deny the extradition on the basis that Krejcir still had pending criminal cases in South Africa. 

The representation letter echoed Krejcir’s recent claims that his prison conditions had become unbearable, with many of his basic privileges withdrawn, allegedly due to an increased security risk surrounding him. 

Last week, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) denied claims that he could not contact his family or his lawyers by telephone for weeks on end. However, the Saturday Star has seen yet another letter sent from Krejcir’s legal team claiming he was inaccessible.

Another of Krejcir’s attorneys, Jeff Mendelson, said was subjected to “various forms of maltreatment”, despite a series of court orders, ordering the DCS to desist from such practices. 

“Letters from the Czech Embassy as well as all of his legal representatives have had no effect on the way he is treated whatsoever. 

“Even more disturbing is the blatant disrespect that the DCS seem to have for the Constitution of South Africa,” said Mendelson. 

The lawyer claims Krejcir has effectively been moved into solitary confinement, unable to consult with his family or lawyers, deprived access to legal documents needed for his series of criminal cases, had all forms of entertainment removed from his cell, and was victimised by prison personnel. 

Mendelson claims Krejcir is kept in a cell that is 30% smaller than the international minimum standard, has been deprived hot showers, has a continuously leaking toilet in his cell, and is given no access to daylight or ventilation. 

The DCS denied such allegations in previous correspondence with Mendelson and the Saturday Star. 

“A major concern of his is that there are many prisoners without a voice suffering in similar conditions,” said Mendelson. 

“The law dictates that everybody, including prisoners, must be afforded a certain standard of treatment. 

“Some liberties must be limited, understandably, however, it is apparent that the DCS is taking extreme advantage of this and are abusing their public powers, a theme that continues to plague South Africa. 

“This matter reaches far beyond just Radovan.”

Mendelson said he would be meeting with heads of the prison in the coming week to try and determine a way forward. 

The Saturday Star