Police and justice officials have been left red-faced following the brazen escape of convicted mobster Radovan Krejcir’s alleged go-to hit man.
On Monday, 28-year-old Kagiso Ledwaba – the convicted killer of German supercar dealer Uwe Gemballa – was able to get hold of a gun as he appeared in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court.
After being taken down to the holding cells he held up and disarmed the cell commander. He grabbed a set of keys, which he used to unlock several doors before escaping in a waiting car.
Ledwaba escaped after appearing in court for murder, attempted murder, housebreaking, armed robbery and a cash-in-transit heist.
He was to appear again tomorrow for sentencing in connection with Gemballa’s murder.
Gemballa disappeared in 2010 shortly after arriving in South Africa to meet Krejcir and former Teazer’s boss, Lolly Jackson, for a business deal. His body was found in a shallow grave in Atteridgeville, outside Pretoria, wrapped in duct-taped black bags.
Ledwaba also has 24 other charges pending against him.
Police have not released an official statement concerning the escape but have responded to queries from The Times, saying they viewed the escape in a “serious light”.
But Institute for Security Studies policing specialist Johan Burger questioned why the police had not been proactive. He said given Ledwaba’s high profile, one would have thought they would have had his picture “all over the media”.
“This is very out of character given the new approach to policing by acting national police commissioner [Lieutenant- General Khomotso Phahlane]. Whichever way it goes we can expect a public response from him quite soon.”
Justice department officials suspect police officers were involved in ensuring Ledwaba got hold of a gun.
“It’s embarrassing. Now that it’s out, there’s hell to pay. This guy is not a small fry [or] petty crook. He’s a killer who works for international organised crime networks,” a crime intelligence source said.
A court security guard said: “Security checks are not being done. He walked into court with the others and then left. Next we hear he’s free. The cops are completely blind. How does he get a gun? It couldn’t have happened before he came in because there are too many checks. It would have to happen in court. Those closest to the prisoners are the police. How else do you explain how he got the gun?”
Justice spokesman Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said according to preliminary information, “the accused, in possession of a bag, was brought in by police and had not been searched by officers.
“They left him alone, he was seen uncuffing himself, taking his firearm and attacking the other policeman. The security officers at the entrance were not alerted and the accused left smoothly, pretending to be one of the members of the public,” Mhaga said.
Police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said they viewed the escape in a serious light and were investigating.
Mark Shaw, director of Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, said the Krejcir case had consistently demonstrated levels of corruption among police.
“If there’s corruption involved in this escape, then it’s a serious indictment on policing,” he said.[Source: Times Live]