South Africa launches probe into telephone interview with Czech prisoner

South African authorities have appointed a special investigation team to probe a telephone interview between local broadcaster Talk Radio 702 and Czech convict Rodovan Krejcir, who is currently serving a 35-year jail term in South Africa after he was found guilty of attempted murder, assault and kidnapping, among other crimes.

Krejcir, who has been complaining about prison conditions spoke to Talk Radio 702 in an interview aired on August 10, 2018.

“This is a serious transgression considering that inmates do not have the right to be interviewed, unless permission is granted by the relevant authority,” a statement by South Africa’s Department of Government Communication and Information said.

“The investigation team has been given 24 hours to conduct an inquiry and report back to the National Commissioner of Correctional Services. The Department has further deployed an experienced senior manager to oversee operations at Leeuwkop Correctional Facility until further notice,” the statement added.

The Department of Correctional Services says the interview undermines the mandate of corrections, which entails safe and secure custody of inmates under humane conditions. It also called on the media to always exercise restraint when engaging with inmates, especially through illegal means, as it portends unprecedented risk to the community, officials and even the victims of crime.

The government agency further expressed dismay and vowed that those who aided Krejcir will be spared no mercy.

Krejcir, a former organised crime boss was considered one of the richest people in the Czech Republic, having made a fortune from criminal activities during the 1990s. However, he fled the country in 2005 shortly after being arrested. In 2012, he was sentenced in absentia to eight years’ imprisonment for fraud totalling CZK 108,000,000.

The Czech government is currently seeking his extradition from South Africa.