Gauteng High Court security plan to be reviewed after detainees escape

2019-01-17 21:38
Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. (Sarel van der Walt)

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. (Sarel van der Walt)

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In a bid to improve internal security management and the handling of awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners, the operational plan at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg will be reviewed.

This is according to the Office of the Chief Justice, which made the announcement on Thursday.

To discuss the security measures, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo met with representatives from, among others, the judiciary, the police and the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as correctional services officials and the Johannesburg Bar.

The meeting, also attended by Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery, took place a month after the high court was under lockdown for an hour because two awaiting trial prisoners - Mongezi Mcunukelwa and Sbonelo Nkosingiphe Thwala – escaped.

Only Mcunukelwa was recaptured.

Mcunukelwa, who at the time was suspected of being a serial killer, was convicted and sentenced to two life terms after his recapture, Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo told News24 on Thursday.

However, he still has to answer to the charge of escaping from lawful custody.

Thwala, who is still at large, appeared in court for a murder committed in Jeppe in April as well as the alleged possession of an unlawful firearm and ammunition.

The circumstances surrounding the escape were still under investigation, Masondo said.

Judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said in a statement that plans would be developed to deploy Metro police and the SA Police Service (SAPS) around the court precinct to maintain security and control parking, and to ensure that judges, court officials and court users feel safe in and around the premises.

The plans are expected to be completed and implemented by January 25.

"Metro police and SAPS have already partially implemented the external parameters security plan. Sixteen Metro police officers have been deployed within the precinct during the past two weeks to address crime prevention and enforcement of by-laws and traffic management," Mncube said.

"Police officers have been deployed by SAPS to augment the shortage of court orderlies."

The number of security personnel will also be increased to control access to the judges' chambers, Mncube added.

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