Sick Mathe denies 69 charges

Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

After numerous postponements, the trial of Ananias Mathe finally started in the Johannesburg high court.

The frail-looking Mathe sat quietly throughout the hour-long hearing yesterday when the 71 charges he faces were read to him.

He pleaded guilty to only two charges of escaping from custody.

He looked weak and often used his head to gesture.

Judge Geraldine Borchers was concerned about his health.

She told him to sit down while the interpreter read all the charges.

Mathe pleaded guilty to escaping from Johannesburg central police station cells in April 2005.

He also pleaded guilty to escaping from C-Max prison in Pretoria in November 2006, which earned him the Houdini nickname.

Mathe pleaded not guilty to seven counts of rape, three counts of robbery, 15 counts of theft and four counts of attempted murder, among others.

He has been in prison since he was rearrested in December 2006 after he had escaped from C-Max.

The trial continues today.