Escapees get two life terms each

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Bloemfontein - Four men were sentenced to two life imprisonment terms in the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday for murders committed during an escape from court in Harrismith.

High Court Judge Corne van Zyl sentenced the men to life imprisonment for the killing of Constable Meshack Cebekhulu, 29, during the escape from the Harrismith Magistrate’s Court in May 2011.

The men are Nkosana Zondo, 37, Joseph Ntoni, 33, Richard Phakoe, 35, and Thami Ramahlokoane, 27, who were found guilty on several charges including two of murder.

They received another life imprisonment sentence for the death of Harrismith businesswoman Avelene Botes, 52, whose vehicle they hijacked outside court and crashed in neighbouring Qwaqwa.

Botes died from injuries suffered in the crash.

The men were further sentenced to between six and 20 years imprisonment individually for attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravated circumstances, and escape from custody.

All the sentences would run concurrently.

Judge Van Zyl said it was pure luck that more people were not killed on the day of the escape.

She described the men as dangerous, who had planned to eliminate anybody in the way of their escape. The judge said the men had shown no respect for life or society.

Van Zyl said the arrogance showed by the men in planning and executing an escape from a place with a high police presence was a telling factor.

The crime was executed in its most severe form, the court held.

Van Zyl said the life imprisonment sentences were also justified in the light of the high number of police officers killed on duty. - Sapa


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