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Two former police reservists were found guilty in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday of robbing a Durban police station of 15 guns and then killing a policeman who had witnessed the robbery.
Thabani Mchunu and Pretty Khuzwayo were convicted of the murder of Sergeant Mandla Thusi and armed robbery from the joint SAPS/metro police operations centre in Boscombe Terrace on the Durban beachfront in 2009.
Petros Sithole, a civilian, was found guilty of robbery.
The SAPS and metro police both have satellite stations at the centre. Mchunu and Khuzwayo were reservists at the station.
One robber entered the station, saying he wanted to open a case. While a constable attended to him, another robber brandishing a firearm pointed a gun at the unarmed officers and demanded the guns. The robbers were not told where the guns were, but found them.
In convicting Sithole, Judge Jacqui Hendriques relied on Sithole’s confession as well as other evidence.
She said that a detective had testified that Thusi, before his death, had identified Sithole in an identity parade as one of the people who had been involved.
When it came to Mchunu and Khuzwayo, she found them guilty on the basis of what they had said in their confessions.
Thusi, who was killed because he was a key witness, was shot 10 times at his home in Inanda, Durban.
Judge Hendriques said Mchunu’s and Khuzwayo’s confessions indicated that they had conspired to eliminate Thusi.
June Rose Dlamini, who was also arrested, was convicted in May 2009 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Another accused, Bongani Innocent Ndlovu, was discharged. Argument on sentencing takes place today.
Meanwhile, three policemen, Bongani Dlamini, Linda Cibane and Sabelo Ngcobo, who were arrested after they were found with four of the stolen guns, had pleaded guilty and were handed suspended sentences.
Ngcobo was fined R10 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment. In addition he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years on condition that he did not commit an offence in contravention of the Firearms Control Act.
Cibane and Dlamini were fined R5 000 or six months. In addition they were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment wholly suspended for five years. All three men were declared unfit to possess a firearm.