Gemballa's killer cries foul after co-accused's escape

2016-03-10 17:00
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Johannesburg - One of the men convicted of German supercar specialist Uwe Gemballa's kidnapping and murder told the High Court in Palm Ridge on Thursday that he felt prejudiced since his co-accused's escape from the same court this week.

Thabo Mohapi said that on previous occasions, he and his co-accused Garland Holworthy and Kagiso Lincoln Ledwaba, were allowed to get meals from their relatives in court, to eat during breaks.

This was because they did not eat before a court appearance and tended to spend long hours there. This was no longer allowed.

"Now we are being treated as if we want to escape, if you check my record you will see that I don't have a single escape attempt. So please can we not be implicated for what he did," Mohapi said.

Mohapi and Holworthy were in court for sentencing proceedings for Gemballa's murder.

The German national was an associate of convicted drug dealer Radovan Krejcir and slain Teazers boss Lolly Jackson.

A fourth accused, Thabiso Melvin Mpye, 29, entered into a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing Gemballa, 55, shortly after the German arrived in South Africa on February 8, 2010.

Gemballa's body was found in a shallow grave in Pretoria in October that year.

In March 2011, Media24 Investigations reported that Krejcir had allegedly boasted to his private doctor that he was behind Gemballa's murder.

In November 2015, Judge George Maluleke found them guilty of murder, kidnapping, and theft.

Strict security

On Thursday morning, there was strict security in court room 4, with police and correctional services officials present.

Responding to Mohapi's complaint, prosecutor Riegal du Toit told the court it was not within his power to issue orders to the police or department.

Despite this, Maluleke asked that Du Toit make an attempt to speak to the relevant authorities about Mohapi's concerns.

Ledwaba’s escape had led to heightened security, but the rights of ordinary prisoners should still be respected, Maluleke said.

On Monday, Ledwaba escaped from the court shortly after appearing for another matter. He and two other accused were facing one charge of murder, nine of attempted murder, and six of robbery with aggravated circumstances.

A court orderly testified that on his way back down to the holding cells, Ledwaba walked ahead of the group he was with and disappeared from his sight. Ledwaba then slipped into a policeman's office, took the officer's gun and keys from his table, unlocked a door, walked into a courtyard and escaped through a gate. It was in dispute whether his feet were shackled or not.

It was not immediately clear where the police officers and security guards on duty in the yard were at the time of his escape. He was still at large.

Earlier on Thursday, Mohapi took the stand to testify in mitigation of his sentencing. The former SA National Defence Force staff sergeant told the court he was wrongly convicted of Gemballa's murder.

"I did not commit this crime that I have been convicted of," he told the court.

When asked what he would say if given the opportunity to address  Gemballa's family, he said: "I would tell them that I am sorry that Mr Gemballa had to come all the way from Germany to die here in South Africa. Those people who killed him will surface one of these days."

Sentencing proceedings for Mohapi and Holworthy were expected to continue on Friday. A social worker was expected to present the court with a pre-sentencing report in mitigation of Holworthy's sentence.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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