Cop dragged colleague to safety

2008-05-19 00:00

The Pietermaritzburg High Court heard evidence yesterday of how Greytown police Superintendent Caroline Minaar dragged her wounded colleague to safety while being shot at herself by a group of armed robbers in September 2006.

Minaar, Captain Nalesh Maharaj and the wounded officer, Inspector Moonsamy Moodley — who all came under attack at the scene of a house robbery in Cooper Street on the night of September 14 — gave evidence yesterday at the trial of seven men charged with their attempted murders and those of two other police officers, and other crimes.

Thokozani Ntanzi (21), Sizwe Mkhize (28), Sibongiseni Mchunu (26), Sibongiseni Mkhize (26), Vusumuzi Ndawonde (31), Mziwandile Mkhize (29) and Nkosikhona Mkhize (24) have pleaded not guilty before Judge Piet Koen and two assessors to a total of 17 counts of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

The prosecution alleges they were members of a syndicate formed with the aim of robbing people for firearms and other valuables in the Greytown area.

It is alleged that the 17 offences were committed in furtherance of a common purpose.

Superintendent Minaar, who has 22 years’ service with the SAPS, said she received a radio message about a housebreaking in progress in Cooper Street on September 14, 2006 and went to the scene with Inspector P. Ngcobo of the dog unit. As they approached the house, Captain Maharaj came running out saying: "Stop, we’re being shot at".

Minaar said she stopped her vehicle outside the gate and she and her colleagues entered, taking cover along the fence.

She saw two vehicles in the yard, one of which she recognised as a police-owned Citi Golf. She ran towards that car and as she did so, shots were fired at her from the house. Sergeant Moonsamy Moodley (who was already on the scene) returned fire.

Minaar said she took cover behind the Golf and from there fired two shots towards the house. An exchange of gunfire between the police and the gang took place, lasting several seconds.

"Then I heard Sergeant Moodley say he’s been shot. I saw him lying in an exposed area next to the motor vehicle and he wasn’t moving. I ran to him … While I ran, shots were fired at me … I picked [Moodley] up with my left arm. As I did that, I noticed one person running out from the front door towards the garage and shooting at us. I fired two shots at him … I picked up Sergeant Moodley … and I then dragged him … to safety behind the Citi Golf. The firing stopped at that stage," said Minaar.

Minaar and Ngcobo dragged the injured policeman along the driveway to a state vehicle and then called for back-up.

Moodley, who was shot in the knee, was rushed to hospital in Greytown for treatment and later transferred to MediClinic in Pietermaritzburg, where he underwent a knee operation. He said his leg is now "skew" and he suffers a lot of pain.

Minaar said after the shooting, she and other colleagues entered the house and discovered a group of people inside who appeared to be of foreign origin.

They were traumatised, and one man had been hit on the head and was bleeding.

A bed in a bedroom was upside down and the whole room had been "trashed", Minnaar said.

The people in the house told police the occupants had been robbed of money and cellphones and severely assaulted.

In another room, they discovered that a burglar guard had been bent and broken and the window was open. During a search, Minnaar discovered a magazine with three live rounds near a fence covered by a creeper.

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