Priest shot ‘as he tried to push alarm bell’

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feb 23 blondel_cropped

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

File Photo - Father Louis Blondel. Photo: Sizwe Ndingane

The reasons forwarded for the robbery at the Roman Catholic Church in Diepsloot, which resulted in the killing of one of its leading priests, ranged from a suggestion “that they should fetch the money which people donated on Sundays”, to a plan to “rob people so that they could obtain money for beer.”

This emerged on Wednesday in the Pretoria High Court when the prosecution read out notes made by the police of what was said when the four accused were on different occasions taken to point out the crime scene.

Jabu Ndebele, Freddy Mahlangu, Thembalethu Sindane and Kgaugelo Manzini denied that they were part of the group which broke into the parish in December, 2009.

But their co-accused, Nelson Malope, who was earlier sentenced to an effective 18 years’ imprisonment after confessing he was the man who pulled the trigger, this week testified that all four were with him during the robbery. He was also adamant that all of them knew he had taken a loaded firearm along.

The reason for this, the court was told, was so that the victims had no choice but to hand over their possessions to the robbers. The plan was apparently not to use the firearm, but merely to scare the priests.

Malope said he shot Father Louis Blondel when he encountered the man in the house. According to Malope, he got a fright when he saw the elderly priest standing in front of him and he fired a shot.

He told the court that they initially went to the parish to steal a computer, as there was someone who wanted to buy one.

All four accused now before court during their pointing out of the crime scene, told the police how they climbed over fences that night until they were inside the parish premises. Two of them managed to squeeze through the burglar bars and they later forced Father Guido Bourgeois to open the door for the rest of the gang.

Ndebele told the police during his pointing out that they had tried to sell the computer to one of their friends, but he did not appear to be interested. They were arrested two days later, before they could get a buyer.

Mahlangu said it was Malope’s suggestion that they should “rob around Diepsloot to get money for beer”. He also said that when he asked Malope why he had shot the priest, he was told that it was because Blondel was about to push the panic button. - Pretoria News

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