Johannesburg - A second member of the notorious blue light gang has been slapped with a 90-year jail term, with a High Court judge in Joburg labelling him a callous man with no respect for the sanctity of life.
Neo Mokone’s sentencing on Friday comes just nine months after ringleader William “King of Bling” Mbatha was sentenced to a total of 123 years by the same court, although he is serving only 35 years as the sentences are running concurrently.
Similarly, Mokone will serve only 36 years after Acting Judge Nathan Jacobs ordered that his sentences for the 34 crimes should run concurrently. His offences include murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances, impersonating a police officer, attempted murder and kidnapping
From November 2008 to April 2009, Mokone and Mbatha went on a rampage, dressing as police officers and using cars fitted with blue lights to stop people and rob them at gunpoint.
Both were arrested but Mokone absconded after being granted bail, leaving the man labelled the King of Bling for his love of all things flashy to face the music alone.
When Mokone was rearrested in October 2011, a shoot-out ensued, leaving a passerby dead and a policeman injured. He also attempted to kill six other officers.
Judge Jacobs said the fact that Mokone could repeatedly shoot at the police, seriously injuring one, showed that he had no respect for the sanctity of life.
The judge also said the way Mokone had treated one of his victims, Yacoob Omar, had been humiliating. Not only was Omar assaulted,threatened with a firearm and robbed, he was also kidnapped.
“And you have not shown any remorse because you have been maintaining your innocence throughout. There can never be rehabilitation without remorse,” said the judge.
“The state called for a life sentence. You heard the state advocate; she is of the view that there were no exceptional circumstances to justify a lesser sentence.”
The judge said he did not take into account a previous conviction Mokone had from a crime committed 12 years ago, treating him as a first offender instead.
Asked by The Star team for his thoughts about the fact that instead of spending 90 years behind bars, it would be only 36 years, Mokone seemed surprised.
“Ninety years? Is that what I got? And now it’s 36? Oh, it’s the same as King of Bling’s,” he said.
He later shared a light moment with a team of police officers involved in his investigation and arrest, chatting and laughing with them before asking: “How can you let an innocent man go to prison? Where is justice?”
When the officers brought him a fake ID book and a driver’s licence bearing his pictures, he laughed and said, “that is not me”.