'The cripple, the loose-mouthed Serb and the drug deal gone wrong' - Extract from Krejcir, the book

2016-12-06 16:34
Krejcir Business as Usual

Krejcir Business as Usual

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Smuggled contraband to jail break attempts: 5 wild Krejcir moments

2016-02-23 09:40

Krejcir, who was convicted of kidnapping and attempted murder last year, has become synonymous with drama. Watch.WATCH

Angelique Serrao's Krejcir delves into several killings and intricate ties in the criminal underworld.

Here is an extract from a chapter titled The cripple, the loose-mouthed Serb and the drug deal gone wrong:

"‘You live by the gun, you die by the gun.’

It’s a quote you will find among the graffiti on the walls of prison cells, and buildings and other places where gang activity is rife.

It’s something that men who live fast, dangerous lives are constantly aware of.

If you are a successful criminal, money can flow in and life will be good.

There are all the trappings of wealth – the women, the prestige.

But around every corner … ‘Bam!’

Chances are the last thing you will see is the barrel of a gun.

For Sam Issa, that gun was an R5 rifle and it was about to riddle his body with bullets, right outside the shopping centre where he spent most of his days.

You live by the gun, you die by the gun: the quote was whispered in fear by those who came to gawk at his murder scene.

There were a lot of men who knew the dead man.

They were nervous about talking and their voices were hushed as they stared.

They stared at the bullet casings that littered the road.

They stared at the smashed-up car that ended up halfway across the pavement.

They stared at the devastated family who huddled near by.

Issa was a regular in Bedfordview, a Lebanese drug runner whose parties with endlessly flowing champagne were legendary.

He was known for his propensity to show off by shooting his gun into the air.

Those who loved him swore he wasn’t a violent man, even though he shot his brother once. But most knew better: he hadn’t earned the nicknames Black Sam and Cripple Sam for nothing.

Black Sam because he was feared; Cripple Sam because he had a limp from an old bullet wound.

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday, 12 October 2013.

It had been quiet on the Radovan Krejcir front for a few months.

There had been no murders and no remote-controlled guns firing unexpectedly.

But, in true Krejcir fashion, that was about to change.

Issa had spent the evening drinking with Krejcir at Moneypoint.

The two men had not got on well in recent months, so the long drinking spree until the early hours of the morning was a surprise.

Inexplicably, Issa, who lived just a few kilometres away, did not drive home that night.

He slept at the Mercure Hotel, which was just moments from Moneypoint. At 5.50 am he checked out of the hotel.

He had travelled two blocks when his Audi Q7 stopped at a red light by Bedford Centre, his regular hangout.

A white Ford Ranger pulled up next to him and opened fire.

Marina Valassopoulos, who lived just across the road, awoke to the sound of bullets flying.

‘It was automatic. I heard bah bah bah, one after the other, then a split second of silence before it started again.’

Another witness, a shaking teenager, who did not want to be named, also woke up to the sound of gunfire: ‘I ran to the window and then there was a second round of gunfire,’ he said.

Issa’s black car was reversing away from the Ranger, in which there was a man firing the shots.

The Audi crashed onto the pavement and stopped.

There was no movement inside. Black Sam was dead.

‘There was a white Ford Ranger that did a U-turn so fast that you could hear the tyres screeching. You can see the skid marks on the road.

They put on blue lights and I heard sirens, and the Ford sped off in the direction of Eastgate,’ the teenager said.

The intersection was littered with bullet casings: thirty-three 5.56- millimetre cartridges lying in the road. It took police hours to circle each one in white paint.

Two of them had entered Issa’s windscreen; countless others went through the driver’s door.

All the while, Sam Issa’s body lay slumped in his Audi, his right side riddled with bullets.

He lay there for three hours while forensics did their thing. His family stood nearby the whole time. ‘It’s a great shock,’ his brother said.

Police called him over to identify the bloodied corpse inside the car.

He walked away, shoulders slumped, wiping tears from his eyes. Onlookers stood by and watched.

Death had come to visit Issa just two weeks before, they said. But, that time – during a robbery – he had been spared.

Four balaclava-clad men had entered his home, beaten him up, covered his head with a hood and cable, and tied his arms and legs, his relatives told The Star.

Issa was no stranger to the life of crime.

Paul O’Sullivan revealed to the public that the gregarious character was a middleman in the supply of drugs to Johannesburg clubs.

He got the drugs mainly from Brazil.

Sally Evans from investigative-journalism organisation amaBhungane said that intelligence sources had discovered that Issa had recently been involved in orchestrating the purchase of a large consignment of cocaine routed via Kenya or Tanzania.

They believed concern over the payment for the consignment might have led to his murder.

‘Issa was caught in the middle. In the underworld, the last man who handles the goods carries the bucket and, if something goes wrong, they also kick the bucket,’ an intelligence source told Evans.

It is well known that Issa was a business partner of Krejcir’s.

Yet Krejcir was quick to deny he had any relationship or business dealings with him, telling Radio 702 that he didn’t know Issa very well. ‘He was a very private person. Nobody knew what he was doing or who his associates were.’

This description of the dead man didn’t fit with what everyone else knew him to be.

Friends of Issa told Evans that he was a party animal who enjoyed all the bells and whistles of living the high life, including expensive champagne, which flowed at his parties where he surrounded himself with beautiful women.

Sabina Essa, a model and friend of Issa’s, told Evans that Issa had loved to socialise and host parties. She described him as an ‘extremely passionate and positive person, who was always laughing and joking’.

He was also described as a loudmouth who would do things to show off, like firing bullets into the ceiling. O’Sullivan said that Issa, who had lived in South Africa for 16 years, was in the country on a false identity document and that he had last worked in 2008: ‘His credit history shows he was employed years ago at a metal company. There is no indication he has held a job since then.’

Without a job, how could he afford the champagne-filled parties? It was a clear indication that Issa was very likely to be involved in crime.

Issa’s friends, who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity, said they had warned him that he would be killed and that he needed to leave Joburg.

They said Issa was constantly complaining about Krejcir. ‘Sam helped Krejcir with bail money. Sam complained about it all the time, saying Krejcir had never paid him back. He also said Krejcir owed him money from a business deal.’

Chad Thomas, a forensic investigator from IRS Forensic Investigations, said he knew Issa well.

He said he had met him some years before at the launch of his girlfriend’s beauty salon in Bedfordview.

Thomas said that Issa had an extremely volatile personality.

He spoke of an incident in which Issa had invested a large amount of money in a property development company. When the scheme did not render the investment results it was supposed to, Issa demanded his money back from the owner, a man called Billie.

Said Thomas: When he wanted his payout, Billie could not pay him. So Sam kidnapped Billie and the man made all sorts of promises under duress. A few weeks later he went to a church where Billie was a pastor in the East Rand suburb of Sunward Park, and Sam held the entire management of the church hostage claiming they benefited from Billie’s dishonest activities. On leaving the church, Sam fired a couple of shots into the air. That was the kind of man Sam Issa was.

Others close to him said that during the robbery incident just two weeks before his death, Issa had been kidnapped.

He was bundled into a car and the men said they were going to kill him. However, Issa said that one of the men went soft and decided to spare him after he begged for his life.

The others wanted to kill him but, in the end, it was a burst tyre that saved him.

His kidnappers left Issa and fled. ‘He was told that God had given him a second chance, that he should leave Johannesburg. Because whoever had sent those men to kill him was not happy with them.

A few days later they came back and finished the job,’ said one acquaintance.

The day after Issa’s death, Jerome Safi, the man who had invited Uwe Gemballa to South Africa to discuss a business venture, received a death threat.

On the Sunday morning, Safi received an SMS saying ‘you are next’.

‘The message could have come from anyone, but everyone knows I am an associate of Krejcir, and given that Issa was murdered the day before, I take this as a direct threat,’ Safi told The Star.

By this stage, many assumed Krejcir was in some way involved in Issa’s death, and Safi, who was a witness in the Gemballa murder trial, saw the SMS as a threat from him.

Miloslav Potiska said during an eNCA Checkpoint documentary that he had warned Sam Issa, ‘Don’t push him [Krejcir] so much, okay.’

Potiska said in Kmenta’s book that Issa had lent money to Krejcir on two occasions.

The first loan was R1.2 million; the second was R500 000.

The second loan was used to pay Krejcir’s bail in the cancer fraud case.

Issa had given the cash to Michael Arsiotis, who then gave the money to Krejcir’s attorney, Piet du Plessis. ‘A few months later Issa started to phone me all the time, telling me that Krejcir would not answer his phone, and that Krejcir needed to start paying back the money he had lent him. Issa was becoming very impatient with Krejcir, and Krejcir started getting annoyed with his demands,’ Potiska said.

Potiska said he told Issa that Krejcir would pay him when his mother sent money again.

‘Issa put pressure on Krejcir to meet to discuss repayments of the money.

When Krejcir received some money from his mother he gave Issa R100 000.

But he did not make any effort to pay back what he owed.’

According to Potiska, Krejcir asked him to call Issa several times and he warned the Lebanese man that Krejcir wanted to harm him and asked him to calm down about the money and to be careful.

‘I later left South Africa, in February 2012, to get away from Krejcir and then I heard that in 2013, Sam Issa was murdered. I am very sad about it, as he was a friendly guy and did not do any harm to anybody.’

Potiska also revealed that Issa had joined a terrorist cell as a young man in Lebanon and he was sent to Europe.

He had spent 18 years in prison in France in connection with a bombing in a church in Paris. ‘Sam hated to talk about it,’ Potiska said.

When he was released, he came to South Africa where he dedicated his life to the drug trade.

He then latched on to Krejcir ‘because he smelled his power and money.

He agreed with Sam on a partnership.

Sam Issa put his money into the business with meth and expected a lot of money coming back.

After some time Sam became annoyed though. He got into trouble with a Brazilian gang he had got some cocaine from, as he could not pay for the whole consignment,’ Potiska said.

The Czech said that Issa then started to push Krejcir hard to pay back the money he had lent him and the two men fell out. After the robbery, Potiska said that Issa became even more annoyed with Krejcir and he tried to contact the cops, offering to talk. ‘You know the rest,’ Potiska said."

Read more on:    krejcir  |  radovan  |  books

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