Murder convict escapes from court

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A vigilante was able to run out of an Mpumalanga courthouse shortly after being convicted of murder on Thursday.

Michael Maepa, 31, from Matsulu outside Mbombela, was convicted in the Nelspruit circuit of the High Court in Pretoria, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Maepa and his co-accused, Hlanganani Gama, 31, were arrested on January 23 when they handed themselves to the Matsulu police after local resident Themba Mondlane was killed in a vigilante attack on January 22, 2013.

During the trial, three other suspects were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Maepa was out on R3000 bail when he appeared in court on Thursday.

After his conviction around 11am, he ignored a police officer who instructed him not to sit next to his mother.

Instead, he took a pack of cigarettes from his sister, started walking towards the door before running away without security guards managing to stop him.

Two policemen chased after him but returned later to report they could not find him after searching the building.

The court resumed after about 30 minutes of waiting in case Maepa returned.

State prosecutor Eric van der Merwe requested Judge Lötter Wepener, of the Gauteng Local Division, to issue a warrant for his arrest.

Earlier, the pathologist who did the post mortem on the deceased on January 24, 2013, said he found that the right testicle was missing.

He said the scrotum was opened possibly as a result of an assault.

Four witnesses gave corroborating testimony that Mondlane’s legs were chained while Maepa, Gama and three others assaulted him in full view of the public around 3pm on January 22, 2013.

The court heard that the deceased was accused of breaking into Maepa’s house and stealing clothes.

Maepa testified that he only assaulted the deceased with a belt.

He said when they were taking him to the police station, a mob attacked him after a certain woman accused him of stealing her DVD player.

Maepa told the court that he last saw Mondlane after he broke free and ran into the veld.

Wepener said the court relied on more than three witnesses who were present when Maepa and Gama assaulted the deceased in full view of the public.

He sentenced Gama to three years imprisonment and is expected to pass sentence against Maepa once police re-arrest him.

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