Suicide fears and cop uniforms: veil lifted on Krejcir’s life behind bars
A criminal case against him has brought to light some shocking behind-the-scenes info on his incarceration
A criminal trial against Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir that has stalled for three years has inadvertently revealed why the security around him increased dramatically in recent months.
It was also revealed Krejcir may be sent to a mental facility for observation, as his prison psychologist believes he may be suicidal.
On Friday, Krejcir appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court for yet another of his criminal trials, this time facing charges relating to an alleged plot to escape from Zonderwater prison that would have seen dozens of armed men storm the prison to bust him from his cell, commit strategic murders to distract authorities, and smuggle him out of the country.
While the alleged plot was foiled years ago, the proceedings have moved at a snail’s pace over the past three years since the charges were instituted, with not even a trial date set due to dozens of postponements – many triggered by Krejcir himself.
However, on Friday, Krejcir once again stalled proceedings, with his legal representative, Jeff Mendelson, telling the court that the Czech was unable to secure funds to pay counsel to argue the criminal trial.
The reason, he claimed, was that the department of correctional services (DCS) had repeatedly denied Krejcir phone access to his mother, Nadezda Krejcirova, who was responsible for wiring money to him from the Czech Republic.
Over the past year Krejcir has been trying to launch an application at the High Court in Johannesburg to improve his prison conditions, where he has made similar claims – alongside accusations that he is not receiving the required amount of psychiatric treatment and medication, and is kept in de facto solitary confinement.
Mendelson reiterated to the court on Friday that Krejcir’s prison conditions were terrible, with the Czech businessman claiming he was being kept in his cell for 23 hours a day, only allowed an hour a day in small yard outside to exercise, with no other prisoners present.
He also reported during proceedings that Krejcir’s psychologist was considering sending him to Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital because she believed he may be suicidal.
However, prosecutor Jacob Serepo revealed there was a reason the Czech was being kept under such strict conditions. He said a “new police uniform” was found in his cell in 2018, and that alongside the allegations contained in Friday’s criminal proceedings, it was understandable as to why he was being monitored so closely.
Earlier in 2019, Times Select reported how DCS had accused Krejcir of once again trying to escape from custody, but gave scant detail about the plot. However, at the time, Krejcir claimed through his lawyer that this was nothing more than an elaborate attempt to keep him from securing better prison conditions.
On Friday, magistrate Prince Manyathi at the High Court in Johannesburg, while acknowledging Krejcir’s attempts to improve his conditions, said the Czech would have to resolve his legal representation by the next appearance in April, as a trial date needed to be set after three years of postponements.
Among Krejcir’s co-accused in the escape plot case are former prison officials Solly Metlae and Marcello Harrison, allegedly set to be bribed to assist in helping him escape, Sandile Mdumbe, the owner of the safe house where Krejcir was to remain before leaving the country, and Krejcir’s former girlfriend and mother of his child, Marissa Christopher, who was alleged to be facilitating the bribe payments.
On Friday, Mdumbe’s lawyer, JJ van Zyl, also launched an application to either have the case struck from the roll – as his client has remained in custody for the past three years after being denied bail – or to have Krejcir separated from the trial proceedings, to allow the criminal proceedings to go ahead.
Manyathi denied both suggestions. Despite numerous criminal cases against Krejcir, to date he has only been convicted on charges of drug dealing and attempted murder, and is serving a 34-year prison sentence.