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Cape Town - Three men convicted of murdering two Kraaifontein police officers have been sentenced to six life terms and 155 years in jail between them.
Western Cape High Court Judge Elizabeth Baartman sentenced Sivuyile Sangovana, Khangelani Thukela Twala, Olwethu Sothondoshe and a fourth man, Sibusiso Mehlo, for their roles in the hijacking of a Khayelitsha tavern owner, the murder of two police officers and the attempted robbery of Somali shopkeepers – all within six days.
Sangovana, 23, and Sothondoshe, 25, were each given two life terms and 45 years in jail. Twala, 22, got two life terms and 65 years in jail, and Mehlo, 25, was jailed for 20 years.
On Monday, the judge and her two assessors found that Sangovana, Twala and Sothondoshe hijacked tavern owner, Patrick Rala, 53, about midnight on May 22, 2011, just after closing time.
They robbed him of his cellphone, silver Toyota Yaris and R40 in cash. After struggling with one of the men, Rala surrendered and tried to run away. He was shot in the stomach, but survived.
Using Rala’s car, the trio drove to Kraaifontein and shot and killed Warrant Officer Gershwin Matthee, 39, and student Constable Cannon Cloete, 23, who were attending to a Wallacedene woman who had been raped.
As the officers walked with the woman to her shack, a passerby saw a silver Toyota Yaris drive up next to the police vehicle and shoot at them.
Matthee was hit eight times, twice in the back of the head, and Cloete was shot four times. Both officers died at the scene.
The stolen Yaris was abandoned under a railway bridge in Mew Way, near Khayelitsha, and set alight. The next day, after finding the vehicle, police linked it to the double murder.
Four days later, Twala and Mehlo tried to rob two Somali shopkeepers – Cabdi Ahmed Mohamed and Ahid Omar – at gunpoint at the Rasta Cash Store in Harare, Khayelitsha.
Twala was shot at and injured and was found lying wounded between nearby shacks. He was arrested.
Police recovered the guns used in the Rasta Cash Store incident. According to ballistics evidence, one had belonged to one of the officers and the other was linked to the hijacking.
The men were charged with 15 counts including murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
On Wednesday Judge Baartman dismissed Sangovana, Twala and Sothondoshe’s application for leave to appeal.