Court official in court for aiding Palm Ridge escapee

2016-03-11 17:00


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Johannesburg - A court orderly charged with helping a convicted killer escape from the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court earlier this week appeared in the same court on Friday.

Wearing a black jacket and maroon tracksuit pants, Conright Mathonsi, a constable, put his hands on his head before proceedings began in the Palm Ridge District Court on Friday afternoon.

The matter was postponed to March 15 for further investigations and a possible bail application. He was arrested on Thursday and charged with defeating the ends of justice and aiding a suspect to escape.

Kagiso Ledwaba, 28, escaped from the court on Monday morning. He was a few days from being sentenced for the murder and kidnapping of German businessman Uwe Gemballa, 55.

He and his co-accused, Garland Holworthy and Thabo Mohapi, had been convicted of theft and Gemballa’s murder and kidnapping.

According to The Star, Gemballa was an associate of convicted drug dealer Radovan Krejcir and slain Teazers boss Lolly Jackson.

A fourth accused, Thabiso Melvin Mpye, 29, entered a plea agreement with the State, in which he admitted to kidnapping and killing Gemballa shortly after he arrived in South Africa on 8 February 2010. Gemballa's body was found in a shallow grave in Pretoria in October that year.

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

When Ledwaba escaped, he was appearing on a separate matter. He and his co-accused Modiko Dipale and Percy Segoe had appeared briefly on one charge of murder, nine of attempted murder, six of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and one each of housebreaking and theft.

Dressed in a smart white shirt, grey pants, and a gold wristwatch, Ledwaba flashed a smile at his co-accused before joining them in the dock on Monday. He had an unzipped black bag alongside him.

According to The Star, the bag contained a gun. The newspaper reported that according to the CCTV footage, Mathonsi had left the bag between two cars in the court's staff parking lot. When the prisoners arrived in a police truck, Ledwaba got out last, trailing at the back of the group before ducking between the cars to retrieve the bag.

After his court appearance, he was led down to the holding cells. He held a police officer at gunpoint, took the officer's gun and a set of keys, unlocked a door leading into a courtyard, and walked out through a gate. His feet were apparently still in shackles.

Ledwaba was still at large. Court proceedings in the Gemballa case continued in his absence. On Friday morning, the matter was postponed to March 15 as Holworthy's lawyer JP Marais was not in court. A social worker was expected to present a pre-sentencing report in mitigation of Holworthy's sentencing.

On Thursday, his co-accused Thabo Mohapi told the court he was wrongfully convicted of Gemballa's murder.

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."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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