Two prisoners on trial for the murder of a police officer have shifted the blame to their dead accomplice.
Thulani Ndlovu, 30, of Yeoville, and Andrew Thobolo, 57, of Hillbrow, appeared yesterday in the Johannesburg high court on charges of killing Sergeant Modikeni Riba in July.
The state alleges that the two, and a third prisoner, Sibusiso Dlamini, who is dead, shot and killed Riba and wounded his colleague, Inspector Kgafele Maleka, during an escape attempt.
The men, charged with murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and escaping from custody, were being transported from Witbank to Potchefstroom in North West, where they were to face charges of armed robbery.
When the police van stopped at a filling station in Lenasia, the three allegedly tried to escape and a shootout ensued. Maleka, Riba, Thobolo and Dlamini were shot. Dlamini later died in hospital.
Yesterday Ndlovu said he saw Dlamini grab Maleka's firearm and pull him into the van.
He said when he was attacked, Maleka had been about to uncuff Dlamini, who had asked to go to the toilet.
"Dlamini grabbed the firearm. I became scared and lay down," said Ndlovu.
"Then I heard gunfire. When I looked I saw Dlamini lying on the ground."
Asked who he thought had shot the policemen, Ndlovu said: "I think Dlamini shot them."
Thobolo corroborated Ndlovu's story. Thobolo denied the state's claim he was the one who had attacked Maleka. He said at his age he could not have overpowered Maleka.
Asked if he had had any desire to escape, he said: "I had ample time to escape, but I did not do so."
The prisoners confirmed they knew each other because they were also facing other charges together in Witbank.
The trial continues.