Defendants shoot their way out of court

2014-08-20 00:00

HOW did a f***ing gun get in here!?”

This was the question a shocked court orderly asked after at least one firearm was smuggled to dangerous awaiting-trial suspects who appeared at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Outside the regional court 7, one of the suspects grabbed constable Eddie Ngubeni around the neck and shot him through the head. Court personnel gathered as paramedics and security officers struggled to keep Ngubeni alive.

Emile Viviers, attorney to one of the suspects, sat next to Ngubeni and kept encouraging him to: “Hang on. Hang on”.

Some court orderlies say the suspects, Lucky Sekgopo and Jeffrey Mahlatse Nchabeleng, had two firearms when they stormed into the courtroom. The duo were to appear on at least six counts of armed robbery and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

When their case was called, Sergeant Theophilus Mogafe opened the wooden door and gate to the holding cell.

Reports indicate when Mogafe unlocked the cell door to escort Sekgopo and Nchabeleng to the courtroom, one of the suspects had produced a firearm and aimed it at close range.

Mogafe managed to shove the barrel aside, but was shot in his side. Ngubeni rushed from the courtroom to give aid.

“He had hardly opened the wooden door when the suspects stormed out. The suspect grabbed him around the neck, pushed the gun to his head, shot him and ran off,” Viviers said.

Another attorney for the suspects, George Schuurman, said he realised Ngubeni was badly wounded when he saw blood welling out of the constable’s ear.

Court personnel took cover under desks as the suspects fled through the court’s doors. Outside in the street, a police officer who was reportedly getting into his car was pushed aside by the suspects, who made off in his vehicle.

Leanne George reports they raced to Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, where the dumped the car and hi-jacked a red VW Polo. The suspects were still at large last night. Ngubeni and Mogafe were taken to hospital where Ngubeni was still in a critical condition last night.

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