Prisoner escapes from Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court

2016-03-07 21:15


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Johannesburg – A man facing 24 charges for crimes ranging from murder and attempted murder to robbery and housebreaking, escaped from the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon after pulling a gun on a police officer.

Thabiso Ledwaba, 28, had appeared briefly in court nine on charges of murder, attempted murder, robbery, housebreaking and theft along with his two co-accused, Modiko Dipale and Percy Segoe.

On his way into the court, Ledwaba – dressed in a smart white shirt, grey pants and a gold wrist watch – flashed a smile to his co-accused before standing alongside them, with a black unzipped bag next to him.

Less than 30 minutes later, unbeknown to those inside court at the time, Ledwaba was standing in the holding cell section of the court a few metres below the courts, pointing a firearm at an officer inside his office.

Warrant Officer Kobi Mashe told Judge Cassim Moosa that after Ledwaba and a group of five other men had appeared in court, he took them downstairs to the holding cells. Ledwaba was leading the pack, he told the court.

Pointing a gun

As the group got closer to the holding cells, Ledwaba walked ahead of the group and out of Mashe's view.

By the time Mashe caught up to see where he was, he saw him inside another officer's office with a firearm in his hands.

"I saw Ledwaba pointing a gun at our colonel. He was still shackled... I saw [the colonel] handing his firearm to him because he was pointing a firearm at [him] and taking the keys from the table," he said.

Mashe told the court that after Ledwaba took the keys from the table, he headed straight to a door with burglar bars on its gate, unlocked it and walked out into a courtyard.

When asked whether he ran after Ledwaba after he left through the gate, Mashe said he instead went to attend to the colonel and two other female officers who were hiding under the table at the time, and were "shivering".

Second escape

The small gate though through which Ledwaba escaped led to a police courtyard, the court heard.

According to Mashe, security guards had seen the man running through the courtyard to a larger gate where a car was waiting for him.

"You're saying to me that security officers saw a man running with shackles out the big gate?" Moosa asked Mashe, who replied in the affirmative.

Moosa raised concerns about the likelihood that Ledwaba had managed to enter the court with a gun, which went undetected.

He said police officers needed to be more thorough when searching inmates coming to court.

"This is the second escape the court has had in two terms. It is becoming quite problematic," he said.

Ledwaba is still at large.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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