Driver tells of blue light shooting

2010-06-22 00:00

THE driver of a car that was allegedly shot at by a VIP Protection Unit member on the N3 highway on November 15, 2008, told the regional court he lost control and veered across the highway into oncoming traffic because he was “scared”.

Anuvasen Moodley gave evidence yesterday at the start of the trial of VIP Protection Unit officers Hlanganani Nxumalo (28) and Caiphus Xolani Ndlela (36), who pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including six counts of attempted murder and the unlawful or reckless discharge of a firearm.

Ndlela, who was driving the state-owned black VW Golf with blue lights flashing en route to pick up Social Development MEC Meshack Radebe from Waterfall to go to inspect storm damage at Molweni, pleaded not guilty to two further charges of reckless and negligent driving, alternatively driving without reasonable consideration of other road users.

Moodley told regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren that traffic on the N3 was “very busy”. He was driving a black Mazda with five passengers towards Durban, and was in the fast lane doing about 120 km/h when he noticed a car with blue lights flashing about 200 metres behind him.

Moodley said he “tried to move over” to the left lane, but there were trucks in the lane. He indicated that he intended to move over to the left.

He said when the police vehicle was “on his bumper” in the Ashburton area he heard a gunshot. When the road split into three lanes he moved to the centre lane and the Golf started to pull up alongside him. When the front was level with the right rear passenger door where his wife was seated, he heard her shout: “Gun” and he then heard a second shot.

“I lost control of the vehicle and went over the embankment to the oncoming lane …

“On the other side a vehicle knocked me and I went into the railing.” He said he was not badly hurt, but some of his passengers were seriously injured.

Advocate Griffiths Madonsela for Nxumalo suggested to Moodley in cross-examination that when the officers signalled to him to move out of the way he “lifted his hand and showed them a finger”. Moodley denied making any hand signals.

He also disputed suggestions that he applied brakes at any stage or that he switched lanes or overtook any other cars.

Asked by the magistrate what caused him to lose control of his car, Moodley responded: “I was scared.”

Moodley said he did not inspect his vehicle after the incident, but saw the left passenger tyre was “blown out”.

The defence indicated to the court yesterday that they want a ballistics expert to study a bullet head allegedly recovered from the scene, and the state undertook to make it available.

Madonsela said the defence has information that “no physical damage was caused by any bullet to any tyre” on the vehicle.

While Nxumalo elected not to disclose the basis of his defence, Ndlela said in a statement he was concentrating on driving when he heard shots being fired.

He noticed the passenger window open and asked Nxumalo if he fired the shots. “Accused No. 1 [Nxumalo] informed me that he fired [a] warning shot,” he said.

Ndlela said he did not see what happened, but told Nxumalo they should stop at the nearest police station and report the shooting. Nxumalo called 10111 and reported the incident.

Ndlela alleged that Moodley’s vehicle switched lanes at various stages and also applied brakes so he had to take evasive action.

As he drew parallel with the Mazda, he alleged it moved to the right. “I had to take evasive action by moving right to the edge of the road …” he said.

The case’s next date is October 4.

 

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