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Durban - The
family of a slain Durban policeman have welcomed the life sentence given his killer – a Phoenix SAPS detective who was also convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Constable Nkosimakhe Ngwane, 31, who was based at the Folweni police station, was killed after being flagged down by a security guard during a robbery at the Amagwazela General Store in July 2009.
He had been driving a colleague, Sifiso Ngubane, home from work at the time.
Four armed men – including detective Shacks Richard Majozi and his two cousins – had entered the store and robbed its owners, two Chinese nationals, of airtime vouchers, cigarettes and R2 000 in cash.
When Ngwane entered the store, he ordered the robbers to put down their guns, but they opened fire on him. Ngwane returned fire, but was killed. One robber, Sibongiseni Nhleko, was also killed in the shoot-out.
The other three robbers fled in a police car driven by Majozi, 44, a detective with the SAPS family violence unit in Phoenix.
Majozi, later arrested along with his accomplices by the Durban organised crime unit, was found guilty in the Durban High Court on Thursday of murder, and for his role in the robbery.
On Friday, Acting Judge Poobie Govindasamy sentenced him to life for murder, and 15 years’ imprisonment on the robbery charge.
Ngwane’s father, Paulus, said in an interview later that his son’s killer had showed no remorse, and three years later they still had no clue why he was killed.
In February 2010, the two other accomplices, Siyabonga Mketshana and Ayanda Mkhize, pleaded guilty to the robbery and murder charges. They are serving life sentences.
In their pleas before the court, the two admitted having been part of the gang and implicated Majozi in the crimes.
Majozi had pleaded not guilty.
Govindasamy said the robbery destroyed the faith that store owners, Zheng Hui Zhan and Yulani Lia, had in SA.
He said the constable’s death was a waste of life as his “hopes and dreams were dashed by what transpired that day”.
Of Majozi, Govindasamy said: “He showed no remorse for the crime. He was also on duty, serving the interests of the country at the time of the offence. He acted in common purpose with his two cousins and provided a state vehicle as a means of transport.
“He breached the trust not only of the community, but the police service. Instead of preventing crime and ensuring peace in the country, he became involved in crime, which obviously leads to the breakdown of society, causing chaos and destruction.”
Majozi intends appealing his conviction and sentences.
After the sentence, the constable’s parents, Paulus and Clotilda, who had attended the trial every day, said they felt relief to have some closure.
Their son had been a police officer for six years.
“Our son had always been a good child. He was a kind person and very family oriented,” Paulus said.
“We are so grateful to the police, the state advocate, Nick de Klerk, and the judge for this outcome.”
According to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), citing statistics in a 2011/12 report, there were 43 cases in which police officers were convicted for various criminal offences, including 18 for deaths in police custody and as a result of police action. There were a further 25 convictions for corruption, culpable homicide and assault.
The report noted 21 acquittals in murder cases and 17 for other criminal offences such as theft, rape and culpable homicide involving police officers.
The directorate said it received 4 923 complaints – 10 percent from KwaZulu-Natal – against police officers. Of these, 720 were regarding deaths, 88 domestic violence cases, 2 320 allegations of other criminal offences and 1 795 for misconduct.
According to Ipid’s website, two police officers appeared in the Pretoria Regional Court this month for murder.
Last month, 15 policemen appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court on a murder charge, and in September, a constable from Kimberley was arrested for rape.