Ladysmith shooting: soldier out

2012-04-24 00:00

THE murder charge against a soldier who allegedly shot and killed a fellow soldier in Ladysmith has been provisionally withdrawn.

Lance-Corporal Elphus Nkosi­nghphile Simelane of 5 SA Infantry Battalion in Ladysmith allegedly shot Rifleman Marius Thorpe (27) in February last year following an argument at the gate of the base.

Ladysmith Regional Court senior prosecutor René Schuler told Beeld last week the state was ready to proceed with the trial.

However, none of the five state witnesses showed up, despite having been warned during the previous appearance at the end of last year to arrive for the trial. The investigating officer was said to be in the Cape.

The state asked for a postponement last week, while the defence insisted on a judgment.

The charge against Simelane has been provisionally withdrawn and subpoenas have been issued for the witnesses.

“This means that Simelane can be charged again if the witnesses can be traced. The onus rests on the witnesses to ensure that they are available for the court case …” Schuler said.

During the incident three shots were fired with an R4 assault rifle, one of which hit Thorpe in the heart and another in the lungs.

An axe was found on the scene after the incident, but no fingerprints or DNA belonging to Thorpe could be found on it. Thorpe allegedly wanted to stand guard on the night in question and Simelane was the guard commander. The men had two arguments, after which the shooting took place. Simelane handed himself in at the Ladysmith police station.

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