High noon at high court
HIGH COURT WRITER
City of Cape Town CCTV footage could help identify who shot a 35-year-old man outside the Western Cape High Court in broad daylight yesterday.
Witnesses said the gunman, who remained at large last night, stared directly into a nearby camera before covering his head and fleeing. The victim was hit in the neck and was in a serious but stable condition last night.
The city’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said police had made a formal request to view footage captured by a camera on the corner of Leeuwen and Keerom streets – just metres from the spot where the shooting occurred.
However, he said the camera might be a revolving one and might not have been directed at the scene at the time.
He said police would also look at footage captured by other cameras near the court building.
Colonel Pierre Loubscher said footage viewed so far could not assist him in the investigation because the gunman could not be seen on it.
The city’s mayor committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said investigators could also look at footage captured earlier in the day to see when the man arrived at court.
The possibility that the shooting was gang-related is being investigated by the police.
The victim, identified by witnesses as “Wallie” from Bonteheuwel, was at court to attend a trial involving a gang-related double murder and in which his nephew stands accused.
Witnesses, who declined for safety reasons to be identified, said the nephew, Winston van der Leer, was with the victim near the Five Flies restaurant in Keerom Street at the end of the court’s tea adjournment when a single shot was fired.
One of the legal representatives in the double murder trial told the Cape Argus that the gunman also attempted to shoot Van der Leer, but the gun jammed.
Police would not confirm the allegation.
Lawyers who witnessed the incident said women screamed as the shot was fired at close range and the gunman fled on foot along Leeuwen Street towards Bo-Kaap.
He was wearing a black tracksuit and white T-shirt and used his jacket to cover his head as he ran.
Witnesses told the media the gunman looked at a CCTV camera on the corner of Leeuwen and Keerom streets before covering his head.
Police found the gun, a .38 Rossi revolver, next to a bin in Leeuwen Street.
The victim was wounded in the neck and paramedics took him to a nearby hospital.
Van Wyk would not provide the man’s name.
He has appealed to anyone with information about the whereabouts of the gunman to contact Colonel Pierre Loubscher at 082 559 4593 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.
According to Van Wyk, the gunman was 1.6m tall.
He could not provide any other information.
The area directly outside the court building was cordoned off as police searched for clues and interviewed witnesses.
Curious court officials, lawyers and members of the public watched the scene, some using cellphones to take pictures of the chaos.
At one stage, the court manager arrived and ordered all court officials to return to work.
Cape Judge President John Hlophe was also briefly at the scene.
Staff at a nearby coffee shop provided witnesses with sugar water while they waited to speak to police about what they had seen.
Van Wyk was unable to shed light on a motive for the shooting, but said the possibility that it was gang-related would be investigated.
“We have a couple of leads we are following up,” he said.
Some people were taken in for profiling.
However, Van Wyk said no arrests had been made in connection with the shooting.
Meanwhile, the wounded man’s nephew was unable to continue with the hearing and the trial was adjourned until today.
Van der Leer, Virgil Adendorff, Eugene Williams, Clint de Hahn and Ryan Abrahams – all alleged members of the Junky Funky Kids gang in Heideveld – are accused of murdering Cameron Philander and his girlfriend, Liezel Saunders, in Ascension Road, Heideveld, on July 18, 2010.
Philander is believed to have been the head of the Westside gang.
The accused have also been charged with the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
The trial has been running for two weeks before Judge André Blignault.
Rael Kassel, an attorney who represents Adendorff, said his client knew the victim by his nickname, “Wallie”.
Kassel said the man who was wounded had accompanied Van der Leer to court every day.
Kassel said the gun jammed when the gunman attempted to shoot Van der Leer.
But police would not confirm the allegation and Van der Leer’s lawyer would not speak to themedia.
Van der Leer and Williams are out on bail while the remaining accused are in custody.
In terms of their bail conditions, Van der Leer and Williams are not allowed to enter the Heideveld area.