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31 Mar 2009 12:09
Judgement in the trial of Lucky Dube’s alleged killers was delayed on Tuesday to ascertain if two of the accused, injured while trying to escape from police custody, were fit to proceed.
The judgement in the High Court in Johannesburg started at 11.30am instead of the scheduled 10am.
Lawyers representing Sifiso Mhlanga and Mbuti Mabe told the court the two men were rushed to hospital following an attempted escape on Tuesday morning.
“Accused one [Mhlanga] attempted to escape and he got injured in the process and was taken to hospital,” said advocate Vuyo Jack.
Mpho Milubi, who is representing Mabe, said the same regarding his client.
The two men, whose judgement was due to be finalised by Tuesday afternoon, allegedly assaulted a police officer at about 8am.
However, other officers managed to apprehend them before they could escape and they were rearrested and taken to hospital as they were injured in the ensuing scuffle.
The nature of their injuries was not yet known.
The police officer assaulted with a brick was receiving treatment in hospital.
Before standing down the trial for 11.30am, Judge Seun Moshidi requested that security be beefed up until the trial was finalised.
“I suggest, in view of this development, that security should be beefed up. People going into this court should be safe and court orderlies must do their work ...
They have been too relaxed,” Moshidi said.
The third accused, Julius Gxowa, cut a lone figure in court on Tuesday morning.
Captain John Maluleke said a truck transporting prisoners from the prison to the courts arrived at about 7.30am at the high court building.
It drove into the courtyard and down to the basement where it parked next to the holding cells to offload 16 prisoners.
The roller gate was closed to seal off the basement and nine policemen were sent to carry out the prisoner transfer from the truck to the cells.
As per procedure, prisoners came out two-by-two to be handcuffed and to have their feet chained together.
Maluleke said the first two pairs of prisoners came out of the truck and were cuffed and chained.
The third pair included one of the men accused of murdering Dube.
As the two men were stepping down from the truck, both pushed hard at one of the vehicle’s doors—causing it to swing into a police officer and knock him to the ground.
A second officer, standing with the chains and cuffs in hand, was then struck by a brick in the face, allegedly wielded by one of the men accused of murdering Dube.
A third officer pulled out a firearm and fired off two warning shots into the air before demanding that all prisoners lie on the ground.
Police then handcuffed and chained the prisoners where they lay on the ground.
Four police officers were injured during the incident.
No prisoners managed to escape and the roller door was closed throughout the incident. All prisoners were placed in the holding cells.
A case of attempted escape and assault on an officer would be investigated, said Maluleke.—Sapa
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