João Rendeiro leaving a police station in Durban, South Africa - Photo: LUÍS MIGUEL FONSECA/LUSA

‘Bankster’ Rendeiro spends difficult night in South African jail

With television news focus still very much on the bail proceedings of recently captured ‘fugitive from justice’, BPP bankster João Rendeiro, reports suggest he has spent a difficult night in one of South Africa’s largest jails.

Arriving back at the courthouse in Verulam near Durban this morning, Mr Rendeiro was transported in a police vehicle reminiscent of a refuse truck, among a large group of other prisoners.

It certainly was not a dignified form of travel. SIC television news described “a great agglomeration of people” within the truck, their offences unknown to the station.

Someone on the outside appeared to pass a mobile phone into one of the prisoners inside the vehicle as it arrived at the courthouse.

But what has emerged since is that Mr Rendeiro’s defence will be asking for a change of prison venue.

Lawyer June Marks considers her client’s physical integrity to be at risk, says SIC. “She says the former banker could be in danger and talks even of death threats”. 

A transfer would “serve to safeguard the former Portuguese banker”, the station adds.

This will be the second court appearance for Mr Rendeiro, and is not due to take place until this afternoon (see update below).

It will be focused solely on whether or not Mr Rendeiro should remain in preventive custody.

His defence will be requesting freedom on payment of a bail bond; the prosecution has said it will be insisting on preventive custody on the basis that Mr Rendeiro has already fled justice in his home country.

In the wider context, it has been suggested that the former banker will be fighting the extradition process due to arrive from Portugal shortly  – a process that would naturally take months.

Legal experts have stressed that if the former president of BPP bank remains in jail for any or all of these months before being extradited, they will not count against the jail terms awaiting him in Portugal.

One group keen to see Mr Rendeiro kept behind bars is the Association for the Defence of clients of BPP, led by Jaime Antunes. Mr Antunes has told reporters that his members believe Mr Rendeiro should serve the time handed him “to comply with justice”.

As SIC explains, “the collapse of BPP in 2010 left thousands of clients damaged and caused hundreds of millions of euros worth of losses to the State”.

Mr Rendeiro has been fined for malpractice, and received three separate jail terms for criminal offences that caused the collapse of the private bank.

He has always claimed to be a victim, which is why he fled justice in Portugal earlier this year (click here).

Jail where Rendeiro spent night known for frequent brawls and is “full of murderers”

This is a headline in tabloid Correio da Manhã today, and explains why Mr Rendeiro’s defence is described as hoping to get a change of prison for their client.

Westville Prison is the largest jail in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, housing around 10,000 inmates. 

It is heavily-guarded but nonetheless “known for frequent security problems”.

Youtube, for example, carries a number of clips showing “serious disturbances” inside the prison: “brawls between rival groups which sometimes cause serious injuries, even deaths”.

“The prison population is made up of criminals condemned for serious crimes. There are a large number of inmates serving time for murder, drug-trafficking and armed robbery.

“Westville also reveals serious health problems among prison inmates, with the existence of high levels of infectious diseases”.

Says CM, a night in Westville was what Mr Rendeiro had been fearing since his arrest at a luxury hotel near Durban on Saturday morning (click here).

UPDATE:

Mr Rendeiro’s hearing is now scheduled to take place tomorrow (Wednesday), not later this afternoon.

He has apparently told journalists gathered at Verulam courthouse that he has no intention of returning to Portugal.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

ENDS