On the sixth floor of the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, in a gangland murder case most have forgotten about, there's a slow-burning standoff unfolding and the delays are costing taxpayers millions of rands.Beyond the bevy of armed guards and metal detectors, four men including Czech convict and former underworld boss Radovan Krejcir, are on trial for a 2013 hit on Lebanese drug dealer Sam Issa aka 'Black Sam' or 'Cripple Sam'. Issa was gunned down outside Bedford Centre early on a Saturday morning while driving his black Audi Q7.
Read:'The cripple, the loose-mouthed Serb and the drug deal gone wrong' - Extract from Krejcir, the bookThe trial has been running before Judge Winston Msimeki for exactly two years and has been postponed dozens of times, with more than 50 days of testimony so far.Each court day, the accused are rushed to the courthouse in a cavalcade of armoured vehicles, blue lights flashing down Pritchard Street. At least 40 heavily armed Correctional Services officials and SA Police Service officers are deployed to courtroom 6E while it is in session, and journalists and members of the public are required to pass through an x-ray machine to gain access.
There have been numerous postponements as a result of Krejcir's poor health, some due to various applications the accused brought and because of conflicts in lawyers' diaries.Now, one of the State's key witnesses is digging in his heels and it seems, is refusing to return to the stand. The situation is resulting in continued postponements that are stalling the trial, leaving the accused and their lawyers frustrated.
Lucky Mokoena, a self-confessed hitman and robber, has been testifying for the prosecution against Krejcir and his co-accused. These include Siboniso Miya aka 'Zuluboy', Nkanyiso Mafunda and Simphiwe Memela, also known as 'Baba ka Jesu'.A fifth accused, Bulgarian Lyubomir 'Mike' Grigorov, has also turned State witness.
Grigorov spent more than 30 days in the witness stand under cross-examination.Another key player, who has gone by the pseudonym 'Jacob Nare', is also waiting in the wings to testify. He was controversially taken into the witness protection programme by forensic consultant Paul O'Sullivan and then dropped from it by police.
O'Sullivan has since been protecting him.Mokoena has finished his evidence in chief and is now due to be cross-examined. It's understood that he has been offered a deal in terms of Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which will give him indemnity from prosecution in this case in exchange for his testimony if the court deems fit.
However, those involved in the matter say Mokoena is unhappy that he has lost an appeal on a separate house robbery case and a warrant has been issued for him in that matter. It appears as though he is seeking blanket indemnity from the NPA, however, the prosecuting authority has not confirmed this.Party held to 'celebrate' hitThe NPA's spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane says that Mokoena remains a State witness and he is expected to return to the witness stand yet again on Wednesday.
In his evidence-in-chief, Mokoena testified about how he was introduced to Krejcir by convicted drug dealer and businessman Glenn Agliotti. He explained how Krejcir requested Mokoena to rob Issa's house and then kill the Lebanese man after stealing his firearms and jewellery. Grigorov had also previously testified about how the robbery had taken place two weeks before Issa was gunned down.
Four men wearing balaclavas had forced their way into Issa's house, covered his head with a hood, cable-tied his arms and legs and beat him. His attackers made off with jewellery, an AK-47 and other firearms.Mokoena has also testified about how he was present at Krejcir's Money Point shop in Bedfordview when he allegedly instructed the accused to shoot Issa and how the men responsible told him that the job had been done.
He has also further implicated Agliotti, claiming that he was present when Krejcir gave the instruction to kill Issa at a party that was held to "celebrate" the hit.Agliotti has strongly denied that he was in any way involved or that he introduced Mokoena to Krejcir. In an interview last year, Agliotti said he was at Money Point the Friday afternoon before Issa was killed.
"It was like a Friday afternoon, they were drinking vodka, I had a double espresso. I said goodbye to them and I left. It was so friendly like f****ng, kissing and cuddling.
Very friendly, no hostility, nothing whatsoever. It was 4pm in the afternoon; they used to drink right through the night. I left and the next morning I hear the s**t on the news so I f****ng phone Krejcir and say jeez what happened to Sam?
He said, 'Can you f****ng believe it?' I said 'What the f**k happened and he said he didn't know; he was going to get his guys to find out."Agliotti says he was interviewed by the Hawks about the murder.
ALSO READ:Former Gauteng Hawks head Sibiya denies all Krejcir corruption claims"I was interviewed by the Hawks in the Sandton police station. The Hawks called me in; I was coming back from Swaziland. I got this call from a colonel in the Hawks and I said, sure, no problem.
He said he wanted to interview me about Issa, Krejcir and Mokoena. I went there and asked what they wanted."He said: 'Lucky Mokoena'.
I said that Lucky Mokoena was a two-bit gangster so he's trying to implicate me. He's a hustler. He's got like 60 cases against him drugs, theft all sorts of shit.
You'll always see him driving in a Ferrari with the best labels, but he scams. If you look at his cases they are either robbery or armed robbery or whatever."Mokoena's allegations are to secure freedomKrejcir's lawyer previously said they believe Mokoena is making these allegations to secure his own freedom.
The accused deny the charges against them and are expected to call several witnesses in their defence.However, that could mean that this trial will drag on for several years still. Prosecutors are also waiting to finalise this trial before they get going on another case involving a plot to assassinate Paul O'Sullivan and ex-policeman Nkosana 'Killer' Ximba in 2014.
Parallel to this is a separate process involving Krejcir's potential extradition to the Czech Republic.Last year, the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court ruled that Krejcir could be extradited and now it is up to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to decide his fate.Krejcir is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence after being convicted of attempted murder and kidnapping in 2015.
Ironically, this prolonged matter in courtroom 6E pales in comparison to the trial running in the courtroom just next door where Tigon accused Gary Porritt is facing more than 3 000 charges of fraud, racketeering and contraventions of the Income Tax Act, the Companies Act and the Stock Exchange Control Act. That case has been on the court roll since 2002 and is still rolling.