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Handcuffed suspect escaped from locked police vehicle

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A suspect who was arrested for the murder of the Brand family on their plot near Hartswater and locked in a police vehicle, was still in handcuffs when he was re-arrested after he managed to flee from custody.

The accused – Donald Seolesang, 22, Tshepo Visagie, 38, Kgomotso Mpumlwane, 45, and Tshepaone Melato, 21 – appeared in the Northern Cape High Court this week for the murder of the Brand family on their plot near Hartswater. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A SUSPECT who was arrested for the murder of the Brand family on their plot near Hartswater and locked in a police vehicle, was still in handcuffs when he was re-arrested after he managed to flee from custody.

The Brand family – Danie, 83, his wife Breggie, 73, and their daughter Elzabé, 54, were assaulted and abducted from their farm and their bodies were found abandoned in the veld near Takaneng village on July 27, 2020.

The accused in the matter – Donald Seolesang, 22, Tshepo Visagie, 38, Kgomotso Mpumlwane, 45, and Tshepaone Melato, 21 – were charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice.

Testifying in the Northern Cape High Court this week, Captain Johannes Etzebeth from the SAPS K9 unit stated that one of the suspects was arrested in Rooiwal.

“The suspect was loaded into a vehicle where some of the latches were broken. It was an old Ford Ranger bakkie with a canopy. I advised them to rather place the suspect in a vehicle with a dog cage as the latches were secure to prevent police dogs from falling out,” said Etzebeth.

He added that the suspect was handcuffed with his hands bound front of his body, instead of tied behind his back.

“It was dark, at around 11.45pm, and I could not identify the suspect. The nearest police station was around 60 kilometres away.”

Etzebeth stated that they drove with the suspect to an uninhabited area near Taung.

“We found footprints and tyre tracks as well as the body of a woman. We at first suspected that it was the daughter (Elzabé) although it was later discovered that it was Breggie. The deceased was taken out of the fountain and transported to pathology.

“We were busy cordoning off the scene and helping forensics to gather evidence and clues. I went back to the vehicle, as I wanted to fetch a torch as the battery of the other one was flat, when I noticed the latch of the dog cage was open.

“The suspect was not in the cage. I enquired from the members on the scene if they knew the suspect was taken out of the cage. The other police officials were searching for the other family members who were kidnapped. I assumed that one of the members might have taken the suspect out of the cage.”

Etzebeth indicated that none of the other police officials were able to confirm that they had released the suspect.

“The suspect could have manoeuvred the latch open with his fingers as his hands were bound in front of his body.”

Etzebeth added that they called off the search for the other missing family members that evening and reconvened the following morning.

“Members of the Detective unit in Hartswater informed us the next day that they re-arrested the suspect. The person was still handcuffed and was sitting between the detectives in the vehicle.”

The legal representative for Seolesang, Roelof van Wyk, indicated that his client stated that he was placed in the dog cage in a police vehicle at the time of his arrest.

The case is being heard before acting judge Cordelia Kgopa.

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