Pellet potshot arrests

2014-09-12 00:00

THREE Westville Varsity College students accused of shooting a municipal worker with a gas-powered pellet gun are expected to appear in court today.

Their alleged drive-by shooting landed them on the wrong side of the law, all three facing charges of assault with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm.

The worker, who is understood to have been cutting down a tree when the youths allegedly shot him, had to have the pellet surgically removed from his hand.

The students, who cannot yet be named, are accused of speeding away from the incident.

They were arrested minutes later, when the car allegedly used in the shooting was identified in the parking lot of Varsity College’s Westville Campus.

A police source, who could not be named, said preliminary statements from the three claimed that they had been attending lectures all day, and could not have been responsible for the drive-by attack.

“Not only did the victim identify their vehicle, which eventually led the officers to the parking lot, other witnesses have indicated that the boys had just arrived at the campus.

“Police are also probing the possibility of CCTV footage which undercuts the claim that they had been nowhere near the scene of the crime,” the source added.

“When officers arrived at the scene and located the car and the suspects, one of them had begged for leniency and then later aligned his story with his friends; that they had been in lectures the whole morning.”

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that the injured worker had been taken to a nearby clinic for medical attention, with the pellet lodged in his hand.

“Three suspects were arrested and will appear in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court today,” Zwane said.

Varsity College spokesperson Caroline Hastings-Brown said the institution had started its own probe.

“A full investigation is in progress at the campus and based on the outcome a disciplinary process may certainly be implemented in line with any proven transgressions of the terms of the Student Code of Conduct.”

The danger of pellet guns, and the strict approach of law enforcement when one is used, should not be under-estimated.

Six months ago, a 45-year-old Cape Town woman was killed on Christmas Eve when her daughter mistakenly shot her with a pellet gun.

In 2005, a Durban man pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder after jokingly shooting at school children with a pellet gun in Malvern.

A pupil was slightly injured and the incident prompted heavily armed tactical police units to storm his home.

The man received a 12-year suspended sentence.

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