Pageant judge wounded

2010-08-07 00:00

A GUNMAN plunged a Durban high school beauty pageant into chaos when he fired a shot in a hall full of pupils and injured a judge in Hammarsdale on Thursday evening.

The glamour event turned into turmoil as the pupils in their school uniforms fled the Georgedale Community Hall or dived for cover. Others jumped over a fence surrounding the hall when the shooting happened at about 7 pm.

Muzi Gumede (30), who was one of the judges, sustained a bullet wound in his left arm. He was taken to a local clinic in private vehicle and later transferred to St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban.

Event organiser Sipho Lembede, who drove Gumede to the clinic, said the event was held to select the district’s beauty queens in preparation for the main Miss Durban High Schools event on October 22.

He said the gunman was among three known criminals who had come to the hall to disrupt the event.

“The three men demanded to enter the hall without paying the entrance fee, which was only R5. One of the judges tried to intervene, but he was shot.

“I don’t know whether they all had guns, but they are known hooligans, who even tried to rob pupils of their cellphones in the evening,” said Lembede.

He said the police were not informed about the shooting. Police at the Mpumalanga police station said that while people had been talking about the incident, no case had been opened.

Lembede said that only three schools had participated as others were busy preparing for the end-of- the-year examinations.

Pupils said they were excited to see who, from Mpumalanga township schools, would represent them in the final event in Durban.

“The MC was ready to announce the top five when the chaos broke out. I saw pupils running all over, and I also ran because I did not understand what happened. I did not see the gunman or hear the gunshot. I only heard that a gun had been fired,” said Matshezulu High School pupil Busisiwe Mchunu.

Georgedale Hall caretaker Fayo Shabalala said that he was in his house nearby when he heard the gunshot.

“I found that the victim had already been taken away. The hall was empty and there was a pool of blood all over the floor. There were also broken beer bottles and scattered chairs,” said Shabalala.

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