Notorious duo killed in court in escape attempt

The two prisoners, who had just appeared before the court, were being escorted from the court holding cells when they allegedly attacked one of the warders.
The two prisoners, who had just appeared before the court, were being escorted from the court holding cells when they allegedly attacked one of the warders.
Image: 123rf/ Allan Swart

Some Thohoyandou high court officials were still reeling in shock yesterday following the killing of two dangerous awaiting-trial prisoners on Tuesday.

Convicted murderer and well-known criminal Mulalo Mabaya, 42, and his accomplice Thulani Majodini, 31, were shot dead in the court holding cells.

The two male prisoners, who had just appeared before the court, were being escorted from the court holding cells when they allegedly attacked one of the warders and tried to grab firearms from warders and police, including a R4 rifle, during the attempted escape.

"During the scuffle, Majodini grabbed a court orderly's firearm but it was not loaded. Then three officials - two warders and a police officer - wrangled with Mabaya over a R4 rifle," said a senior court official who chose to remain anonymous.

Police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said a prison warder and a police officer sustained slight injuries during the scuffle.

Mojapelo said the pair committed murders and robberies from 2009 until 2011.

He said Mabaya, from Itsai in Venda, was arrested in July 2011, while Majodini from the Eastern Cape was arrested in October of that year.

"The deceased started appearing in the high court from July 29 and their cases were scheduled and put on the roll for five weeks to be finalised.

"They were facing 98 charges and when they were killed, they were still at 68 charges," Mojapelo said.

Another court official, who also wished to remain anonymous, said he heard a loud bang coming from the cells below the court immediately after the pair had appeared in court.

"I was really scared. In fact, I'm still frightened. Imagine if those guys managed to overpower the officials and get hold of the rifle. We would have been killed," he told Sowetan.

He said the entire incident could have lasted 15 minutes.

"After the loud bangs, three shots were fired and we could hear there is a fight going on. In a short while two more shots were fired and suddenly it became quiet," he said.

The court official added that the suspects were appearing in court room A, which is located close to the main entrance.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson in Limpopo Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said the trial started this week.

A senior court official said Mabaya was known for his criminal activities in the area and had expensive taste in clothing.

"He is known to be very good with guns. He was always armed. Even when police arrested him he was wearing a bullet-proof [vest]. Every time they appear in court, they will be wearing new, expensive clothes."

Mojapelo said investigations had been taken over by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

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