WARRANT Officer Samuel “Saddam” Maropeng, allegedly an enforcer for Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, is a high-flyer who goes shopping with top soccer players and hangs out with TV soapie stars and musicians.
As 41-year-old Maropeng appeared with co-accused colleague Warrant Officer Jeff Nthoroane, 46, in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, Ekurhuleni, yesterday on charges of kidnapping and assault, the extent of his lavish lifestyle began to emerge.
For months detectives from a national police task team – set up specifically to investigate the murky criminal underworld – have been probing the two, their families and acquaintances.
Tropical island trips, multimillion-rand vehicles, multiple houses, business interests, bank accounts, numerous cellphone accounts and online social network accounts, postings and photographs are all being probed.
The average annual salary of a warrant officer is R160000.
The two accused, members of the Germiston Organised Crime Unit, which falls under the Hawks, were suspended on Tuesday. They were yesterday remanded at Boksburg Prison until their bail application on Monday.
It is then that they will appear alongside their alleged boss, Krejcir, on charges stemming from the alleged kidnapping of an East Rand businessman in June.
According to a police source, the two are believed to be part of a larger group of policemen working as “enforcers” for Krejcir.
The group is said to comprise eight policemen from various units, including the Hawks.
“They are his enforcers and his ‘removers’. The kidnapping and assault are just the first of several crimes allegedly linked to Krejcir that we are scrutinising,” a policeman said. “What we are uncovering is unprecedented. They are like his private army.”
The policeman said one of the things being probed was why cases against Krejcir took so long to be investigated.
“Some dockets lie on desks for months gathering dust … some are not opened properly … some statements just simply disappear as though they never existed.
“This kidnapping case was opened in June, but it just sat on a desk until now.”
More policemen are expected to be arrested soon.
“These guys are juniors … there are some very senior officials we are interested in speaking to,” the policeman said.
Maropeng’s Facebook page, where his favourite movies are Heat and The Usual Suspects, contains pictures of him shopping in Sandton Square with retired Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy and the caption, “With my friends, buying clothes to Mauritius. Halala Benni MacCarthy [sic].”
Others show him with jazz singer Judith Sephuma and so-called sushi king Kenny Kunene. He also posts comments on award-winning singers Lira and Zahara.
Under a picture of Maropeng in an Audi R8 from December 2011, he and Nthoroane talk about a police tactical unit “defeated by criminals now sticking their noses in other people’s business, the bloody fools, F**k them boet let them run”.
The posting is believed to refer to prior investigations of Maropeng for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-rand heist at OR Tambo Airport in 2006. He was arrested for the heist, but the charges were dropped.
Maropeng’s lifestyle is evident from his double- storey house in Vosloorus, which has one-way-mirrored windows. Neighbours were yesterday reluctant to say to whom the house belonged.
Neighbours said renovations on the house started last year.
A woman living close by said the house belonged to a man she knew only as “Oupa”. This is Maropeng’s other nickname.
“I do know him, but it is difficult to say anything because right now, people who are passing us can see you are speaking to me.
“There is a lot I could tell you, but I simply can’t. Even if it is on an anonymous basis, I will be automatically linked to you.”
When she was asked what “Oupa” did for a living, the woman’s brother interjected: “Look, no one at this house has the information you are looking for.”
The policemen’s lawyer, Victor Nkhwashu, said the two knew nothing about the allegations against them.
“We have not seen any documents. We have requested the charge sheet but have yet to receive it. We do not know what they are charged with.
“We have no clue as to how they are allegedly linked to this or any other case.”
Police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said the investigation was progressing. He declined to comment on any previous or current internal investigations against the two. – Additional reporting by Poppy Louw