‘Dracula’ prisoner shot

2012-07-27 00:00

A PRISONER was shot dead and a police sergeant was savagely bitten in the neck when a fracas erupted as the prisoner allegedly tried to escape yesterday morning.

The prisoner was identified by police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan as

Sisikelo Mathebula.

The Witness learned that Mathebula was due to appear in court for judgment to be delivered in a case in which he is charged with the hijacking and murder of Newcastle police captain Mncedisi Nkabinde.

Jeevan said Mathebula was brought to the high court from New Prison in the back of a police van that arrived at court at about 8.10 am.

They were in the underground parking area, which leads to the high court cells where the prisoners were to be taken at the time, she said.

“The policeman in charge got out and opened the back door. There were three prisoners in the van.

“As the door was opened Mathebula attacked the policeman, who shouted for help.”

She said two more policemen came to the officer’s assistance and a struggle ensued during which the prisoner bit a “chunk” out of one policeman’s neck. Another suffered injuries to his hands.

Jeevan said Mathebula “quite simply went berserk”.

Although police managed to get irons and handcuffs on him, he grabbed a firearm from one of the officers.

“Another policeman came down to see what was going on … He saw the prisoner with the firearm and he warned him to put it down. When the firearm was pointed towards him he fired two shots,” said Jeevan. Mathebula was hit in his upper leg and in his side, she said.

He died despite attempts by paramedics to resuscitate him.

Jeevan said the injured policeman was taken to hospital for treatment for the bite wound. Because the shooting is still under investigation the officers involved in the incident were not allowed to give interviews to the media at this time, she said.

Relatives of Captain Nkabinde — Mathebula’s alleged victim — waited in the court foyer to discuss the events with the prosecution.

Members of the family, who declined to give their names, expressed their dismay at Mathebula’s death, which they said had prevented them from getting closure and had left them with many unanswered questions as judgment was not delivered.

Some family members said they believed police were negligent in not having taken greater precautions because Mathebula had escaped from custody on previous occasions.

Michelle Fynn, acting court manager, said there would be an investigation to determine whether security measures should be upgraded at the high court. However, she did not think the incident had happened because of lax security.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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