Gang trial delayed for accused to have mental evaluation

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The trial of two men accused of an alleged hit-style murder and the attempted murder of two state witnesses has been postponed for seven months while one of the accused waits for a bed at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital.

Prosecutor Rafiq Ahmed told Port Elizabeth high court judge Bulelwa Pakati that a bed had been arranged for Emmanuel Sampson, 22, for evaluation but that the earliest date for his admission to the hospital in Makhanda was June 23 2020.

Ahmed said he would inform the court if an earlier date became available.

At the start of the trial, Sampson did not plead to the seven charges he faces. They include one of murder, two of attempted murder and two of contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Sampson’s co-accused, Maxwell Muller, 22, pleaded not guilty to all the charges

Muller was sentenced in October to an effective 25 years for his involvement in the November 2017 murder of two-year-old Haakeem Baartman, who was hit in the head by a stray bullet while playing in the front yard of his family’s Helenvale, home.

It is alleged Sampson and Muller had orchestrated an alleged hit on a pair of teenagers who are not being named as they are under witness protection.

During the November 24 2017 attack on the youngsters, then aged 16 and 17, Methwill Benedict Witbooi was shot in the chest and died later.

According to the indictment before court, Witbooi and the two other men were standing in front of a house in Reginald Street, Helenvale, at about 2.45pm, when a taxi stopped in front of them.

Muller and Sampson allegedly got out of the taxi and opened fire on the trio.

It is alleged that the two men who survived the attack were state witnesses in another shooting for which Muller is standing trial.

The case was postponed to December 13 for the state to update the court on the availability of a bed for Sampson at the psychiatric hospital.

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