A witness says the Czech fugitive felt untouchable after making a donation to a party faction.
Sam Sole & Sally Evans
Dramatic new allegations involving Radovan Krejcir have emerged in a sworn statement seen by amaBhungane. The claims include:
• That Krejcir donated R1-million to an ANC faction ahead of the Mangaung electoral conference;
• That Krejcir boasted of being untouchable because of his political connections and the donation;
• That Krejcir, Ronny Bvuma - who was killed in the bomb blast at Krejcir’s Money Point pawn shop in November - and a Kooben Moodley were involved in a fraudulent scheme to siphon money from dormant bank accounts. AmaBhungane could not reach Moodley to obtain his response to this allegation;
• That Krejcir bragged that he had a plan to get drugs into Australia. This supports evidence led at his bail hearing this week by the state that he was involved in a scheme to send crystal methamphetamine via a contact, identified only as “Doctor”, employed at the clearing agency at OR Tambo International Airport; and
• That Bvuma gave “bags of money” to a senior policeman in Krejcir’s presence.
The allegations emerge in a statement by a new witness, whose identity is known to amaBhungane but who is understood to have been placed under witness protection.
At his bail hearing, Krejcir denied any knowledge of the alleged Australian drug scheme.
His lawyers declined to answer questions from amaBhungane about the new allegations.
The Facebook profile of one of Krejcir’s co-accused, Warrant Officer Machache Jeff Nthoroane, states that he “works at [the] African National Congress” and also reveals that he was at Luthuli House, the ANC’s headquarters, on November 22.
Nthoroane’s lawyer, Victor Nkhwashu, said his client is an “ordinary member in good standing at the ANC” and holds no position in the party.
A friend of Nthoroane’s, who asked not to be named, said that, although the policeman did not “work for” the ANC, he was an active member.
“Radovan has many people working at Luthuli House. I don’t think Jeff would be a person to introduce him to anyone there. The man [Krejcir] is highly connected.”
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said: “These [are] allegations, because we don’t know whether he did or didn’t [donate]. As we have said before, whoever supports us, you don’t support us with your own ulterior motives.
“There is no special treatment for people who donate to the ANC. You support us because you believe in our ANC policies. Our position is very clear: the ANC is not in the habit or game of ensuring that those who donate to it are saved from the law.”
The witness statement alleges that Krejcir traded on claims of being politically connected.
It notes: “Ronny also bragged that Krejcir was ‘untouchable’ as he told Ronny he had made a donation of R1-million to Jacob Zuma’s re-election campaign at Mangaung.
“I believed this as I heard Krejcir saying that he was untouchable as Krejcir was connected to ‘Number one’, which everybody knows is Zuma.” AmaBhungane has no evidence to support this claim.
Bags of money
In his statement, the witness notes: “In the course of the meetings I had with Krejcir, I saw a policeman come there twice. Once in a marked police car with a uniformed driver and once in a plain car, I do not recall which. On both occasions, the cop left with large bags of money given to him by Ronny in Krejcir’s presence. It was clear to me that Krejcir had plenty of cops on his payroll, so going to the police might be a way of getting myself killed, if Krejcir found out …”
Elsewhere, the witness states: “The senior cop, whom I would describe as a black male in his 40s and not too tall, came through to fetch his packet. Krejcir described it as his weekly pay.”
Last week, amaBhungane reported that Warrant Officer Samuel “Saddam” Maruping (41), who is another co-accused with Krejcir, had been seen with Krejcir often, though there is no evidence that he is the person referred to by the witness.
Drugs to Australia
Maruping and Nthoroane are accused of being involved in the abduction and assault of Bhekithemba Bhayiloni Lukele in June this year.
According to an affidavit by the investigating officer, Mashudu Ramuhala, Lukele was tortured by Krejcir to divulge the whereabouts of his brother, “Doctor”, who worked at OR Tambo airport.
According to Ramuhala, Krejcir’s co-accused, Desai Luphondo, whom he described as Krejcir’s “drug pusher”, had given Doctor 25kg of crystal meth to ship to Australia, but Doctor had disappeared and the drugs had not arrived.
According to Luphondo, Krejcir called in Maruping and Nthoroane to help to trace Doctor and, failing that, issued instructions to kidnap any member of his family.
Krejcir has denied any knowledge of the abduction or torture of Lukele, or any involvement in the drug deal.
However, the witness statement seen by amaBhungane provides some corroboration. It states: “Krejcir sat there and told me he had a plan to get drugs into Australia. He said he had arranged and sent a dummy package through and if it went through, more could follow and we would be set.
“He said he had some coloured guys that could supply him with some chemicals. He would buy it and had some guys that would ‘cook’ it into ‘crystal’, and then he would ship it to Australia. I pretended to be interested and told them I was presently not in a position to fund this and just wanted to get out of his presence, as I was scared that he would tell me too much and then maybe I would have to be [a] victim.”
The witness alleges that Krejcir, through Kooben Moodley, had managed to infiltrate the big banks.
“They said they had found accounts that were dormant, but had large amounts of money in them. They wanted to get the money from these accounts. They said they had a lawyer that would help and the money would go to the trust account of the lawyer.
“It seemed to me to be in no doubt that Krejcir was the architect of it and that Ronny was going along with it, but did not know anything about banking.”
The Bvuma case
The same witness statement, together with amaBhungane’s interviews with friends of Bvuma, indicates that Bvuma may have been lured to his death at Money Point.
They claim that Bvuma fell out with Krejcir and indicate he “wanted out” of the business dealings he had with Krejcir through Money Point, of which he was the purported owner.
According to the witness statement: “I was aware that Ronny and Krejcir had some sort of a falling-out … It seems that Krejcir wanted to carry on stealing from the banks and Ronny was worried about this. They had a row about it, and Ronny told Krejcir to take him off all the businesses as a front and let him go.”
This is corroborated by friends of Bvuma, who also asked not to be identified.
Said one: “Ronny’s problem was that Radovan managed to lock him in when he signed as the director or owner of Cross Point Trading [which trades as Money Point]. This is where his issues started, especially when Sars [the South African Revenue Service] got on to his case.
“Ronny wanted out … He wanted his names off the companies that were being investigated by Sars.”
Sars has obtained an interim preservation order over Krejcir’s assets, and also maintains that Bvuma was simply a front for the Czech.
A deadly call
Bvuma’s friends allege that, on the day of the bombing, Bvuma was summoned to a meeting at Money Point and was reluctant to go.
“He didn’t want to go, but he said he would see what they wanted.”
The witness statement repeats this claim, though as hearsay. It notes: “On the day of the bombing, [Ronny] got a call from someone who said he should come through to Money Point … He did not want to go … It seems he went there anyway … and the bomb went off and he was killed.”
It is not known who called Bvuma.
Though some of his friends believe the timing of the blast was suspicious, others say Bvuma was no threat to Krejcir, and was important to the Czech because of his connections to “politicians” and because he could speak the local language and communicate with police.
The new witness appears to have been located by forensic consultant Paul O’ Sullivan, a longtime thorn in Krejcir’s flesh. The witness notes that he provided a sworn statement “with [O’Sullivan’s] assistance after a lengthy interview with him”.
Krejcir delivered a prolonged tirade against O’Sullivan during his bail hearing, accusing him of being a “vigilante” who acted as if he was “above the law”.
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.