Case of Czech Gangster Reveals South Africa’s Dark Criminal Underworld

A Czech gangster likened both to Al Capone and James Bond is in the dock in South Africa, but his case shines a light on police corruption and the country's vast criminal underworld

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Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

Czech fugitive and businessman Radovan Krejcir during a court appearance on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder at the Palm Ridge court, east of Johannesburg, Dec. 2, 2013.

Rainbow nation or not, South Africa is battling a crime epidemic. Even as the country was in mourning for their beloved hero Nelson Mandela, Radovan Krejcir, a Czech businessman and fugitive, made headlines this month when he was denied bail. The towering 45-year-old — he stands well over 6’2 and is built like a truck — was arrested in November on charges of kidnapping and assault in connection with a botched 24 million rand ($2.3 million) crystal meth deal. He appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, just outside Johannesburg, alongside his co-accused Desai Lupondo, an associate, and Samuel Maruping and Machache Nthoroane, two burly suspended members of the Hawks, South Africa‘s elite crime-fighting division.

Krejcir’s case, a glimpse into a world of narco-trafficking and crooked cops, epitomizes the widespread belief Johannesburg is a gangsters’ paradise. “Since the early 90’s there has been a consolidation of criminal networks in South Africa, focusing on the main urban centers, like Johannesburg,” says Mark Shaw, an organized crime researcher at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, a policy think-tank. “Organized crime is not new,” says Shaw, “but it has become much more complex, with much more foreign connections than it had before.”

As Africa experiences massive growth — real GDP is growing at a rate of 4.9 per cent a year and is expected to total $2.6 trillion in 2020 — so does its illegal economy. South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, experienced its organized crime boom after the end of apartheid, when borders opened after years of global isolation. With lawmakers focused on nation-building, not policing, syndicates flourished, taking advantage of the country’s sophisticated banking system and transportation infrastructure. After Nigeria, South Africa has the highest level of illicit financial outflows in the continent, growing from US$1.29 billion in 2002, to a staggering US$23.73 billion in 2011, reported Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based research organization, in 2013.

Krejcir, an economics graduate from the University of Ostrava who cashed in on the Czech Republic’s post-Soviet privatization schemes, left home in 2005 after he was cornered by Czech police at his luxurious villa in Prague. He escaped through his bathroom window and fled to the Seychelles, a country in the Indian Ocean popular with wealthy tourists. Two years later, Krejcir arrived in South Africa using a passport under the name of Egbert Juls Savy; his request for political asylum in the country is still pending. He set up shop in Bedfordview, an affluent town a 20-minute drive from Johannesburg, founding a small empire of companies dealing with diamonds, gold, and spare car parts, according to court documents. His arrest was the dramatic climax to a violent year. In July, Krejcir was the target of of an assassination attempt that saw remote-controlled guns rigged behind the license plate of a car shoot at his black Mercedes-Benz. He survived unscathed, declaring with bravado, “all my life is James Bond stuff.” He denies having links to organized crime.

Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, is a major depot for everything illegal, from drugs to rhino horns. Truck hijackings and commercial crime, hallmark operations of criminal syndicates, are by far the most prevalent in Gauteng, the state where Johannesburg is located, according to 2013 data released by the South African Police Service. Meanwhile, poaching in the country is at an all-time high. As of the end of October, 790 rhinos had been killed by poachers in 2013, well over the annual record of 668 set in 2012.

Organized crime is so entrenched the country it warps the very authorities appointed to fight it. In 2010, Jackie Selebi, the former national commissioner of the South African Police Service, was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 15 years in prison having accepted a bribe from convicted drug-dealer Glenn Agliotti. One year later, his successor, Bheki Cele, stepped down amid allegations of graft. “Over the past 10 years, corruption has been growing significantly, and bribery in the public sector has increased. This all fuels organized crime,” says Peter Gastrow, a crime consultant based in Cape Town. “Organized crime has significantly expanded without the state able to, or perhaps willing to, take effective steps to counter it,” says Gastrow. “Mow we’re in a situation where we are, unfortunately, overwhelmed.”

Given the corruption in South Africa’s police force, it may be the tax man that poses the greatest threat to Krejcir. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) filed a court order in November alleging Krejcir has over 200 million rands (US $19.1 million) of undisclosed financial transactions, which “will have substantial tax implications,” according to SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay. In the documents submitted to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, SARS says Krejcir was doing business with Glenn Agliotti, a convicted drug dealer, and George Smith, who is accused of killing strip club king Lolly Jackson. “Noose is tightening around Krejcir it would seem,” said Mandy Wiener, a local journalist, on Twitter, “SARS going for him a la Al Capone.” (Al Capone, Chicago’s famous prohibition-era gangster, wasn’t brought down on murder or trafficking charges, but was jailed for tax evasion).

But for every gangster South African authorities put behind bars, there will be many more in the future. Gastrow says the illicit market is shifting to China, where its rapidly growing middle class is fuelling worldwide demand. That means African countries will be, more than ever, key transit points. South Africa, with its world-class infrastructure, is the ideal location for international criminal syndicates catering to East Asia. “It’s well located, has airports, banking, a high standard of life,” says Gastrow, “it’s just that attractive of a haven.”

If Krejcir is worried by the criminal charges — his next court date is January 24 — he isn’t showing it. He says in his affidavit he wants to make South Africa his permanent home. “I deny I am guilty,” said Krejcir, “I enjoy living in South Africa and would like to stay here for the rest of my life.”

48 comments
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Obembe Ayodeji Oluwaseun

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Razana Omar
Razana Omar

Such bad statistics for South Africa. :(

Tanya Loper
Tanya Loper

They said "an African country", so no, they don't think Africa is a country.

Turin Gonzalez
Turin Gonzalez

Not to mention gov participation...oops I mean" foreign aid"

Di Kei
Di Kei

Didnt know that thanks

jalangaya
jalangaya

Translation: Black South Africans aren't smart enough to run legal or illegal business. They always need White people for the economic & technical expertise.

klattalexis
klattalexis

Yet another reason why Armageddon must come.

mglarochelle
mglarochelle

A (forced) return to his homeland may be in order ---

James Harris
James Harris

Organized crime is a cancer on society. They make a living through taking what isn't theirs. If there was no one to steal from, manipulate or bully, only gangsters, they'd have to get jobs. Leeches is all they are.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

Martina we have the Russian and Chinese Mafia in South Africa like everywhere else in the world. Did you know that the Mafia is also alive and well in countries such as Great Britain?

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

Why do many countries except criminals of other countries? Sometimes they come in under false information or pretences. This happens everywhere in the world. Unless there is a red Interpol ticket listed some do get away with their criminal records.

Martina Pastier
Martina Pastier

this guy has already been found guilty in the Czech Republic.. why in such SA accepted him?

Leon Nieuwoudt
Leon Nieuwoudt

When hasn't ANY country been battling a crime rate?? Leave Africa out of the equation...

Jabulani Pilime
Jabulani Pilime

Mirella the non Africans think Africa is one country and they believe that all the negative news reported by the international media about Africa is all that happens here.Fox Africa has more than 50 countries with different conditions within them

Ola Emmanuel
Ola Emmanuel

Yea just like any other country but for SA, it's very high, alarmin and worryin.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

When hasn't any country been battling crime. Wake up peoples crime is everywhere and this guy is not even a South African. He is an "import" from Czechoslovakia - all nice people in the old Eastern Block.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

Yes I am sure you will see how the trail goes all the way from the USA.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

And you americans are never on the defence. You are all so perfect with your guns and massacres that take place around your country, not to talk of your serial killers.

Jabulani Pilime
Jabulani Pilime

Botswana,namibia,zimbabwe,swaziland,lesotho and zambia have pretty low crime rates

Fox Hamilton
Fox Hamilton

Uh ... when HASN'T an African country been battling a crime rate??

Doreen Loubser
Doreen Loubser

The dark underworld was exposed long before Krejcir came on the scene when our National police commissioner and head of Interpol was doing dirty deals with drug lords

Neven Mubarak
Neven Mubarak

Very important report from Egypt! ==================== 30 Serious signs that Obama will use mind controlled Muslim Brotherhood jihadists to slaughter Americans soon! =================================== 1- The Obama administration, ignored for two days, the declaration of Muslim Brotherhood, by Egypt, on December 25th, 2013, as a terrorist organization! (They did not comment at all for 2 days, because they got shocked by that couragious decision). =================================== 2- The US Department of State then commented that they have no intention at all or by any means to designate Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, or to take steps to apply that in the USA, and they condemned the decision! =================================== 3- All media and press in the USA and UK, condemned the decision, blamed the Egyptian authority and attacked them for this! =================================== 4- Weeks ago, the wife of ousted Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Mohamad Morsi mentioned that she is a friend of Hillary Clinton, who gets support and advice from Muslim Brotherhood inside the White House, and she claimed she has its secrets in her hands! =================================== 5- Months ago, the son of Muslim Brotherhood leader Saad Elshater mentioned that he is able to put Obama in prison, through the documents which condemn his involvement with Brotherhood! =================================== 6- The White House is penetrated with many Muslim Brotherhood, including Huma Abedein, Dalia Mugahed, Elibiary and others! =================================== 7- The half brother of Obama Obongo Malik Obama was found to be a Muslim Brotherhood leader himself, who trains homeless kids in Kenya on Jihad inside the Obama Charity Foundation! =================================== 8- Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton supported Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamad Morsi to become the President of Egypt and he was their guest in 2012 in the Clinton Global Initiative! =================================== 9- Obama and Hillary used Muslim Brotherhood jihadists to create the terrorist attack on Benghazi Consulate in September 11th, 2012, and refused to help the US Ambassador and his staff there, to be an excuse to occupy Libya with US troops and they denied the role of Muslim Brotherhood in the attacks! =================================== 10- Obama and Bush allowed the creation of Muslim Brotherhood organizations inside the USA, like CAIR, which is directly run by Muslim Brotherhood of Hamas! =================================== 11- Obama met with Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood leaders and Elbaradei in 2009 twice, once in his visit to Egypt and the other in USA, where they planned to get rid of Mubarak! =================================== 12- In 2009, Obama pressed on the European Union to free the Muslim Brotherhood Billionaire Youssef Nada, who owns Altaqwa Bank, which is used for money laundry for mafia and Brotherhood! =================================== 13- Obama released the ban from the Billions owned by Iranian bloody regime in 2013, and ignored the Iranian protests in the streets, which occured at the same day of Egyptian protests, in January 25th, 2011, and considered what happened in Egypt as a revolution that should be supported, but ignored that in Iran! =================================== 14- In 2008, Andrew Warren, the CIA officer in the US Embassy in Cairo, had been sent out of Egypt, to Algeria, for his involvement in the rape and videotaping sex videos, for hundreds of famous Egyptian women and men, to blackmail them to become spies! =================================== 15- In 2011, former US Ambassador in Cairo Margaret Scobey had been accused of sending 23 diplomatic cars of the US Embassy,to run over the Egyptian protesters, which can not be used except with a certain code and key, and investigations proved she delivered them for Muslim Brotherhood to do this and accuse Mubarak Regime! ===================================

Neven Mubarak
Neven Mubarak

16- Anne Patterson , the former US Ambassador in Cairo threatened the former Military Council and the real winner of the Egyptian Presidential elections in June 2012, General Ahmad Shafik, that Muslim Brotherhood will burn Egypt, if Morsi did not become the President, and that the US-NATO will strike Egypt! =================================== 17- Obama had funded Muslim Brotherhood in their revolution against Mubarak, then in the Parliamentary elections, and Hillary funded Mohamad Morsi in the Presidential elections! =================================== 18- Hillary Clinton trained April 6th Youth activists, on digital revolutions, televised revolutions and what is falsely called non violent struggle, where they were taught to continue mess for ever! =================================== 19- In 2011, Obama mentioned Google man Wael Ghoneim, a Muslim Brotherhood and April 6th activist, 33 year old, and said that he wants him to become the Egyptian President! =================================== 20- Obama supported the Free Syrian Army, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood jihadists, whoc slaughter Christians and soldiers and eat their flesh and drink their fresh blood! =================================== 21- The Zionist Google man Jared Cohen, who works for George Soros, had published a book named Children of Jihad, where he praised Muslim Brotherhood jihadists, and how useful it is to mind control them, then to use them to kill other Arabs, to create and continue the so called Creative Mess, as ordered by his boss Miss Condolezza Rice, for the sake of the New Middle East! =================================== 22- Hundreds of CIA-Mossad spies and snipers had been arrested in Egypt since January 25th, 2011, killing protesters and officers, while pretending being reporters, and using cameralaser pens, lighters, mobiles, sticks, rings and non usual weapons as guns! =================================== 23- Obama paid 8 Billion Dollars for Muslim Brotherhood to buy the Egyptian lands of Sinai, for Muslim Brotherhood of Hamas! =================================== 24- Obama did not consider the protests of 40 Million Egyptians in all Egyptian cities and villages as a revolution, and insisted to falsely call it as a military coup, and attempted to threat Egyptian authority, to free Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood leaders! =================================== 25- After months of lies, Obama had to admit that June 30th, 2013 was a revolution, not a coup, while when one million, pre-paid protesters protested against Mubarak in January 25th, 2011, he immdeiately asked Mubarak to leave or he will send US-NATO troops to occupy Egypt and to support Muslim Brotherhood to take over Egypt! =================================== 26- Obama did not comment at all about freedom, democracy or human rights, when Morsi in 2012 made a new announcement to capture for himself all kinds of authority in Egypt and to deny the right of anyone to oppose his decisions! =================================== 27- Hillary always praised Morsi, and she was so happy for all the violence he was making against Egyptians and never blamed him! =================================== 28- Like what happened with Morsi, Obama faked the US Presidential Elections, captured for himself all kinds of authority, killed all his opponents, suppressed protests aginst himself, poisoned their food with GMO and aborted fetuses, sprayed them with chemtrails, deceived his people, used terrorist and jihadist militias to obey his orders, got rid of veterans and military leaders, spied on the world, and is planning to force RFID, nano particles, frontal chemical lobectomy, mind control to turn people into slaves, who become slaughtered upn his orders for disobedience! =================================== 29- Obama killed Christians and burnt churches, through his Muslim Brotherhood jihadists, banned religious soldiers and Christianity in the military, kept silent on any terrorists who slaughter people anywhere, because they help the CIA depopulation agenda, according to the New World Order! =================================== 30- Obama and his allies who rule the world, among the secret society elite, are Masonic, Zionist and Satanic worshippers, to whom Satan gave his powers and secrets, in return to their complete obedience for him, and they had spread all sins and evil, and they plan to use MK Ultra and Black Magic of Kabbala, to force all humans to worship Satan an slaughter each other very soon! ===================================

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

Justin and you Americans know nothing about crime? Your gun laws, massacres that take place. You guys baffle me never you mind.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

Like hell you thought I would bite and I do not know so much if you were joking. If you are an Aussie just go back to the history of your country which was initially populated by convicts. ;-)

Justin Bibler
Justin Bibler

Some of you people BAFFLE me. Defensiveness is your only tactic. Meanwhile, the veracity of what's been said in the article is never discussed. It's evasion by escalation and diffusion; and it's ludicrous.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

And you Jon Smith what are you? For your information South Africa is run by a black Government.

Edwin Wan
Edwin Wan

High or low crime rate, which country doesn't have crime?

Tomáš Nousek
Tomáš Nousek

He was quite a little fish back here in Czech republic. But after his move to Africa he went really mental there.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

Under South African law everyone one is considered innocent until proven otherwise.

Mirella Bonafede
Mirella Bonafede

And other countries are squeeky clean and do not have high crime rates. Please do me a favour!

Hashan Perera
Hashan Perera

This doesn't come as a surprise, South Africa always had a high crime rate.

NYCHOTPILOT
NYCHOTPILOT

Not really. These criminals are not intent on killing others for religious reasons. Secondly, as the article points out SA has world class infrastructure whereas Pakistan has close to nothing with electric power virtually non-existent and poor quality airports, hotels etc.