Durban — A man convicted of the murder of a K9 police officer was handed a 30-year prison sentence.
The Madadeni High Court convicted and sentenced 36-year-old Simphiwe Wellington Mhlungu to 30 years imprisonment on Friday, July 21, 2023, for killing Sergeant Protas Siphiwe Mazibuko, 43.
In December 2021, Mazibuko, who was part of the Ladysmith K9 Unit, was driving his vehicle to his home when he was knocked from behind by an unknown vehicle. He alighted to check what had transpired, then he was shot dead, and his service firearm was taken.
Hawks KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Captain Bonnie Nxumalo said that the Newcastle-based Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team, with Ladysmith police officers from Visible Policing, K9, Tactical Response Team and Crime Intelligence, worked diligently to solve the case.
Nxumalo said that Mhlungu was arrested two days after the incident, where he was found with Mazibuko’s firearm in his possession.
“After a five-day trial which commenced on 17 to 21 July 2023, Mhlungu was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for murder, 10 years imprisonment for illegal possession of a firearm and five years imprisonment for theft of a firearm,” Nxumalo said.
Hawks provincial head, Major General Lesetja Senona, applauded the collaboration and determination by the Ladysmith and Newcastle police officers, which led to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
Mazibuko had 14 years of service with the SAPS.
At the time of the incident, KZN police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said that Mazibuko was shot several times at point-blank range. He died on the scene, and his service pistol as well as wallet was taken by his attackers before they fled the scene.
Two men, aged 25 and 30, were arrested while the vehicle used in the commission of the crime was seized by police. The police officer’s firearm, as well as the firearm used by the perpetrators, were recovered by police.
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