Shots fired as warning to driver

2011-10-11 00:00

A VIP Protection Unit member, Hlanganani Nxumalo (28), testified yesterday that he fired two shots in the air to warn the driver of a black Mazda that tried to force the official blue light car in which he and his colleague were travelling, off the N3 on November 15, 2008.

Nxumalo has pleaded not guilty before regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren to multiple charges including six counts of attempted murder and unlawful or reckless discharge of a firearm.

Nxumalo failed in an application for a discharge at the close of the state’s case in June last year, but the court at that time discharged the driver of the vehicle, Caiphus Ndlela (36), of all but one charge of reckless and negligent driving.

The charges against Nxumalo arise from an accident allegedly caused by the gunshots he fired on the N3 involving a vehicle driven by Anuvasen Moodley.

Moodley testified he lost control and veered across the highway into oncoming traffic because he was scared by the shots.

Moodley claimed that when he saw a car with blue flashing lights behind him he was unable to pull over because there were trucks in the slow lane.

With the police vehicle on his bumper, he heard a shot go off, and when the blue light Golf began pulling alongside soon afterwards his wife shouted “gun” and he heard a second shot.

Nxumalo, however, alleged yesterday that Moodley deliberately tried to force the police vehicle off the road by violently “swerving” towards it twice, endangering his and Ndlela’s lives.

He believed he was acting legally when he fired shots into the air, he said.

Nxumalo said he and Ndlela were due to escort Social Development MEC Meschack Radebe to Molweni (Hillcrest) to inspect storm damage that morning.

They were “lawfully” speeding because the MEC altered the time they were due to pick him up from 9 am to 8.30 am.

Approaching Ashburton the Mazda was in the slow lane behind trucks and without indicating it changed to the fast lane, forcing Ndlela to “apply emergency brakes”.

Nxumalo said Ndlela flashed his lights at the car to alert the driver who reacted by rudely putting his hand out of the window and giving them “the finger”.

Shortly after this, when they again found themselves behind the Mazda, the driver applied brakes and again they had to avoid a collision by also braking.

He thought at that stage that the driver was trying to force them off the road, he said.

When the Mazda moved over to the left, Nxumalo wound down his window, put out his hand and waved at the driver to indicate that he should slow down.

Instead the car swerved towards them, causing him to say to Ndlela,“What’s this driver doing? Does he want to kill us?”

Nxumalo said he then took out his gun and when the Mazda again veered towards them, trying to force them off the road, he held the firearm up in the air with both hands out of the window.

He fired two shots, pausing between each shot.

Nxumalo said they carried on driving, but he’d called 10111 to report the incident and also reported the matter to traffic officers at the Camperdown off-ramp, among others.

The case is proceeding.

• ingrido @witness.co.za

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