File picture: ANA Pictures

Secunda - Three men who killed a police officer near Secunda in February this year have been sentenced to life imprisonment, Mpumalanga police said on Thursday.

Sydney Mashaba, 44, Frans Nathibela, 45, and Khayelile Ngubane, 38, were sentenced on Wednesday for the murder of a constable stationed at the Secunda area crime combatting unit.

"On 18 February 2017, an off duty police officer, the late Constable Phumlani Nxumalo, 44, who was stationed at Secunda ACCU had parked his vehicle alongside the road at Kinross, Afghanistan, when Mashaba, Nathibela and Ngubane approached him. The trio ordered him to get out of his vehicle and when he tried to defend himself, he was hit on the head with the butt of a firearm and he fell down," police said in a statement.

"The trio sped-off with his vehicle before abandoning it at Duba Park next to a tavern. Constable Nxumalo tried to get up and run for help but a few meters from the scene he succumbed to his injuries and died."

The following day the three hijacked a woman.

"They took her to the bushes where they undressed and left her there, before fleeing with her vehicle. The trio went to Middleburg where they committed robbery."

The trio were arrested on February 20.