/ 30 September 2011

Bodies of evidence

Kevin Trytsman, Uwe Gemballa, Lolly Jackson, Chris Kouremetis, Cyril Beeka, Iaan Jordaan, Mark Andrews. The trail of bodies that seems, coincidentally, to follow in the wake of some sort of association with Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, grows by the week.

And yet, none of these deaths has been properly accounted for so far.

Even the killing of Trytsman, supposedly committed in self-defence by his lawyer, remains shrouded in mystery.

The police seem helpless to match the resources and ruthlessness of whoever it is who is responsible for the murders. Foot-soldiers have been arrested in the Gemballa case, but the prosecution appears unable to make a case against those higher up the chain, in spite of detectives having secured a significant amount of evidence.

The key witness in the Lolly Jackson case, George Smith, remains comfortably in Cyprus. The investigating officer assigned to the case is someone who visibly demonstrated his weaknesses in testifying at the failed prosecution of Glenn Agliotti.

The cases continue to be investigated separately, without proper information-sharing and co-ordination. The Hawks give more the appearance of being distracted sparrows. The unit seems unable to put together a national task team — with proper investigative intelligence and prosecuting resources — which this kind of crime so demonstrably warrants.

With regard to investigations of Krejcir himself, the prosecution again appears to be dithering in relation to pursuing the insurance fraud case against him.

The longer such irresolution and incompetence goes on, the more likely witnesses will recant, flee — or worse. The trail of bodies, more than in any series of recent murders, represents an outrageous and deliberate challenge to the authority and competence of the state. All this takes place against a background in which the key players in the criminal justice system and intelligence community appear to be expending most of their energy on factional political jockeying, with little regard to the tightening grip of organised crime.

At the same time, the destruction of the Scorpions and the political abuse of the prosecution service has chased away much of the capacity for dealing with complex crime.

We have to reverse that trend. It is time that these cases were consolidated, prioritised, resourced and solved.

Read the first half of the editorial “Birthday wish for Archbishop Tutu