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Port Elizabeth - Three alleged gangsters charged with a quadruple murder pleaded not guilty to all charges against them as their trial got underway in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.

Randall Calvert, 27, Trenley Dickenson, 26, and Sherwin Joseph, 18, of Helenvale are accused of shooting dead four people at a tavern in Arcadia during January last year.

They allegedly went to the tavern to take out at least three men, but instead four other people, two men and two women, were shot dead in a hail of bullets.

The indictment reads that many patrons were at the tavern, some inside while others stood in the driveway drinking liquor.

The state alleges that the gunmen along with others arrived at the tavern in a white bakkie, jumped off and started firing shots.

“The patrons ran in different directions.The accused pursued the targets and in the process shot and wounded the complainants and killed the deceased,” the indictment reads.

Judge Dayalin Chetty made a ruling on Monday that witnesses names may not be published.

The first witness called in the case, arrived at court with a bullet proof vest and is currently under witness protection.

He was flanked by policemen and at least five TRT (tactical response team) members took up space in the public gallery.

The witness, a reformed gangster, recalled a chaotic shooting scene – adding how before he fled the scene he climbed over the body of woman who had been shot in the pool table section of the tavern.

He said that the men had come for him and his friends and the people who had died were innocent.

He claimed that that he had seen the three accused, all in possession of firearms, adding that Dickenson and Joseph pointed the gun at him and shots went off.

However, during all the commotion, before jumping over a wall to make a run for it, the witness said that he had taken a moment to look at the alleged shooters.

“You see accused with a gun shooting, why did you stand still?” asked State prosecutor Mujaahid Sandan.

“In the gang business, you must stand still because you must see who these shooters are – so you can later take revenge,” he replied.

The men are facing charges which include murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition .

The trial continues on Tuesday. 

African News Agency