Locals launch petition to throw Czech fugitive out of South Africa

Radovan Krejčíř, photo: CTK

Recent violent attacks targeting Czech fugitive Radovan Krejčíř in Johannesburg, South Africa, have caused an outcry among local residents. On Tuesday, a bomb explosion at Mr Krejčíř’s shop killed two people, prompting a petition asking the country’s authorities to extradite him to the Czech Republic where he faces jail. Since his arrival in South Africa in 2007, the alleged crime boss has been linked to at least 12 deaths in what is perceived as a struggle for the control of the underworld. I discussed Mr Krejčíř’s situation with the Czech ambassador to South Africa, Blanka Fajkusová.

Radovan Krejčíř,  photo: CTK
“Radovan Krejčíř seems to be well-integrated in South Africa. There are media reports which associate him with various criminal groups or gangs. For us, that is difficult to confirm but what is evident or clear is the number of unexplained events – attacks, attempts on life and casualties – in recent months and weeks which are linked to him and usually get reported by the media on front pages.”

Would you say Radovan Krejčíř is trying to take over the local crime scene?

“That was the press is saying but as I explained, it is extremely difficult for us to indentify what the truth is.”

Mr Krejčíř is based in Bedfordview, a suburb of Johannesburg. The local organization of one of South African parties, the Democratic Alliance, reportedly launched a petition in support of Mr Krejčíř extradition. Is that true?

Blanka Fajkusová,  photo: archive of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
“Well, we at the embassy have not seen the text of any petition but we’ve seen the statement released by the Democratic Alliance. What we understood is that residents in Bedfordview are concerned about what they call the Krejčíř story which is harming the reputation of Bedfordview as an attractive and relatively safe place to live and work.

“The DA councillor [who started the petition] actually said the South African government should take the threat seriously. But as I said, we haven’t seen the actual text so we don’t know what’s in it or what the procedure would be.”

What’s Mr Krejčíř’s legal situation in South Africa? I understand he faces extradition proceedings which have not yet concluded…

“That’s right. You may know the Czech Republic asked for his extradition already in 2007. The request has been amended several times as his cases in the Czech Republic progressed. The trial here should continue on December 9, and it‘s expected that the judge will deliver a decision. What the decision will be, however, is up to the judge to decide.”

Do you think the recent violence including Tuesday’s deadly blast could play a role in the court’s decision?

Radovan Krejčíř’s shop after the explosion,  photo: CTK
“I really don’t want to comment on that. This is an independent judiciary process and it’s really up to the judiciary to make that decision.”

If the court decides in favour of extradition, would Mr Krejčíř be handed over immediately?

“He has always used all legal possibilities that were at his disposal including the right to appeal so one would think that he would choose to do the same once again.”