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Escape cut short

A scene reminiscent of a Western played out at the Virginia Court last week when a notorious rhino poacher’s escape was thwar­ted by three townsfolk.

On Thursday morning (13/02), shortly before Jimmy Mashopane (35) was to be sentenced, he escaped while being taken to his holding cell.

Onlookers say a group of men deliberately caused mayhem at the back entrance to the Virginia Magistrate’s Court where suspects awaiting trial are brought in.

According to an eyewitness, the men seemed to want to leave the electric gate open.

The next moment, Mashopane, who had just gotten out of the correctional services vehicle, took off in a sprint.

He climbed a thorn tree on the court terrain and jumped over the palisade.

Mashopane landed next to Joseph Mohala, a filing clerk at a nearby law firm, who was on his way to submit documents to the court.

Mohala, upon hearing the screams of onlookers, realised that Mashopane must be a criminal trying to escape.

He chased and caught Mashopane.

Two more men, Johannes Morako and Mabote Hlabahlaba, who looks after the shopping trolleys at the Checkers Centre, rushed to Mohala’s aid and helped to apprehend Mashopane.

Moraka, who is unemployed, regularly attends court hearings. He also attended Mashopane’s full trial.

hearing every day is a familiar face at the court where he attends hearings. He was attended.

As Mashopane had tried to escape from Hoopstad shortly after he was arrested in 2018, it is unclear why was brought to court without ankle cuffs.

Adv. Antoinette Ferreira thanked the three men for their heroic deed and said that if it wasn’t for them, the hard work and trial would have been in vain.

Judge Philip Loubser convicted Masho­pane on 20 charges related to rhino poaching on Friday (14/02).

Loubser sentenced Mashopane to 24 years in prison for rhino poaching, theft of rhino horns, money laundering and transgressions of the Firearms Act.

Mashopane was arrested in January 2019 after the Sandveld Nature Reserve outside Hoopstad had been ravaged by rhino poaching.

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