Johannesburg – Radovan Krejcir’s most recent escape plot was going to be a “full-on war” against Zonderwater prison, with about 10 assault rifle-wielding thugs meant to storm it and free him.
Planned for March this year, the plot, which would have seen the Czech fugitive transported to a safe house in Mamelodi, near Pretoria, soon after his prison break, was foiled by an undercover police operation, a court has heard.
Meanwhile, Krejcir was allegedly willing to pay about R30 million for a series of “strategic executions” in Mamelodi that would have allowed him to escape the area undetected by distracted police services.
This was revealed on Friday when a member of the Krejcir investigation team, Colonel Bongani Gininda, took the stand to argue against the bail of Sandile Mdumbe, the man who was in charge of a safe house where Krejcir was allegedly going to be taken after the bloody operation.
On Friday, Mdumbe and Zonderwater Correctional Services Officer, Solly Metlae, applied for bail at the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court after they were arrested last month for their alleged roles in the plot.
However, the prosecution was so insistent that Mdumbe, an alleged career criminal, not receive bail, that the colonel was brought to testify on the intensely violent nature of Krejcir’s newest alleged prison escape plan.
On March 31 this year, a group of at least 9 or 10 men armed with R4 rifles were expected to arrive at Zonderwater prison where the Czech was being held.
Having allegedly been briefed by Metlae on the weaknesses in the prison’s security system, including who was on duty and the number of officers they would need to evade and/or kill, the group were expected to extract Krejcir from his cell.
“It would have been a full-on war,” another member of the investigation team told The Star, who explained that using R4 rifles, rather than handguns or the more compact R5 rifles, meant that the group was clearly planning on multiple kills during the raid.
According to Gininda’s testimony, Krejcir would be taken from the prison to the nearby Pick n Pay in Cullinan, where he would meet with Mdumbe and be taken to a safe house in Mamelodi. From there, an associate of Krejcir was expected to arrive with R5 million to distribute among the group to pay for their assistance and subsequent silence.
However, the State’s charge sheet against Krejcir, Mdumbe and Metlae implies that the entire operation was ultimately going to cost the Czech R30 million.
According to Gininda, after the cash was divided, the group would then conduct “strategic executions” of residents in the area, to ensure that police were too busy and distracted to notice Krejcir being taken further out of the area.
The murderous – and clearly expensive – operation was foiled, however, because of nine Cape Town Police Special Task Force members flown up to Johannesburg to act as undercover hired guns.
Gininda explained that some of the members were trusted enough to be brought in to assist in the escape plot, and it was one of these agents who made audio and video recordings of his interactions with Mdumbe when they met a few days prior to the plot.
According to Gininda, Mdumbe was clearly aware of the plot and was happy to take the agent, accompanied by Metlae, to the safe house.
Mdumbe allegedly told the undercover officer about the division of money, meeting Krejcir and his group at the Pick n Pay, and gave out his cellphone number freely.
However, in the early hours of March 31, the police planned their own takedown operation, and immediately arrested Mdumbe and Metlae, though Gininda admitted there were still three outstanding suspects who allegedly assisted in the plot, one of whom has fled South Africa.
During the bail application, Mdumbe claimed that he believed the agent was someone looking to rent the property and he was not even aware of who Krejcir was. He also said he had only met Metlae a month prior to his arrest. Gininda was quick to point out, however, that Metlae had been working at another prison, the same prison where Mdumbe was being held prior to his parole in 2012, and this was where they had met.
Earlier on Friday, Metlae was given bail of R10 000, with the State opting not to oppose the bail for unknown reasons.
However, Mdumbe’s bail application could not be completed due to a lack of time, and the proceedings were postponed to May 19.
Meanwhile, Krejcir’s own murder trial for the killing of alleged Bedfordview drug kingpin, Sam Issa, is expected to begin on Monday.
Bail bid held up by suspect’s history
Mdumbe’s bail application on Friday proved to be a difficult one after the prosecution aired his criminal history to the courtroom in a bid to stop his release on bail.
It was revealed on Friday he may have assisted in another escape attempt involving a fellow inmate several years ago.
According to investigating officer Colonel Bongani Gininda, Mdumbe had failed to obey the law on numerous occasions:
In 1992, Mdumbe had been convicted of two counts of assault, and as corporal punishment was still in place at the time, he was sentenced to five lashes. That same year, he was involved in a housebreaking in Sunnyside, Pretoria, for which he was sentenced to six lashes, although another Mamelodi case, where he was found in possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, netted him three years’ imprisonment.
In 2002, he was convicted of another armed robbery, among other charges, including perjury. He ultimately received a 43-year prison sentence. He was released on parole in 2012, though it was only after he was implicated in Krejcir’s escape plan that investigators discovered he may have escaped custody from a case in Newcastle, KZN, and also assisted another suspect in escaping from custody.
Gininda told the court Mdumbe had been implicated in an attempted murder case from February this year while on parole, though the charges were provisionally withdrawn pending further investigation.
Krejcir’s other alleged escape plans
Despite police claiming on record that there had been numerous plots by the Czech fugitive to escape, he has been criminally charged only for the most recent plan – the March 2016 one.
* In October last year, The Star reported how Correctional Services discovered Krejcir’s plan to escape from a female police officer who was to escort him to a doctor’s appointment.
During the trip, he would overpower his handler, escape using a Mercedes-Benz and cross the border into Swaziland. Once in Swaziland, Krejcir would stay at the Royal Swazi Sun in Ezulwini and eventually cross into Mozambique, from where he would have been taken in a chartered plane to Argentina.
* In September last year, The Star’s sister paper, The Sunday Independent, reported how Correctional Services had raided Krejcir’s cell and discovered items expected to be used in an escape attempt. A pistol, ammunition, a knife, a Taser-like object, a pepper-spray gun, screwdriver, steel blades, 10 cellphones, a memory stick and a diary which contained the names of witnesses and investigators in his cases were all seized from his quarters.