The man involved in a robbery which led to the murder of a police sergeant in Killarney Gardens in 2021, has been sentenced in the Western Cape High Court to 25 years imprisonment for his murder.
Luyanda Fuzile, 37, and his four co-accused were charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, murder, attempted murder, the illegal possession of a firearm, and the illegal possession of ammunition.
Sergeant Nametso Ignatius Molema attached to Table View police station was gunned down.
Fuzile entered into a plea and sentencing agreement with the State where he confessed to his role in the crimes.
In his confession, he told the court that in October 2021, he and his four accomplices met and planned to rob GR Spices in Killarney Gardens, Table View.
A month later the group met again and discussed how they would arm themselves and perpetrate the robbery.
On November 26, 2021, the group entered the spice shop pretending to seek employment. When the owner and an employee told the group they had no vacancies and demanded them to leave, they took out their firearms, pointed them at the two and ordered the owner to lie down.
One of the group members searched the owner, found a firearm and R1,000. The group also found R80,000 in the owner’s bag and took a laptop from the office.
They demanded to know where the safe was, found it and ordered the owner to open it when they realised they needed a code to open it.
The court heard while they were ordering for the safe to be opened, they noticed police and private security guards outside the shop. The enforcement agencies were called by other employees.
The group then shoved the firearms in the backs of the owner and the employee and demanded them to accompany them to a shutter door that was opened. As police demanded the group to surrender, they started shooting at police and security while using the two individuals as human shields.
Police and security could not shoot back for the safety of the now hostage victims. Fuzile said he and two others managed to flee, while two of his accomplices stayed behind and shot and killed sergeant Molema and shot and wounded Malibongwe Mnani.
Fuzile was later arrested in Du Noon and was found in possession of R987 in cash, believed to be money taken from the shop owner.
In his plea and sentencing, Fuzile accepted criminal liability, but informed the court he did not shoot the police sergeant.
Senior State Prosecutor, advocate Aradhana Heeruman told the court the phenomenon of attacks on law enforcement officials was egregious and had become prevalent in the Western Cape and the rest of the country.
“The robbery and murder were planned and premeditated. The murder is a foreseeable consequence of the accused’s actions.
“The accused is aware that since he has been convicted on a charge of murder committed by a group of persons in furtherance of a common purpose or conspiracy and that a policeman who was performing his duty was the victim, the Legislature has ordained in Section 51(1) of Act 105 of 1987, read with Part 1 of Schedule 2, that a prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed unless the court should find substantial and compelling circumstances justifying deviating from the prescribed minimum sentence,” Heeruman submitted to the court.
Heeramun further told the court that the parties had agreed that the personal circumstances of Fuzile, mitigating factors, time spent behind bars since his arrest on November 26, 2021, and his willingness to take responsibility for his role in the crimes should be taken cumulatively to be substantial and compelling circumstances which justify a departure from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment for the murder.
Fuzile was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances, five years imprisonment for kidnapping, 25 years imprisonment for murder, five years imprisonment for attempted murder, 15 years imprisonment for the illegal possession of a firearm and two years imprisonment for the illegal possession of ammunition.
This brings his total sentence to 67 years imprisonment. The court ordered all sentences to run concurrently with the sentence imposed for the murder conviction.
Fuzile has also been declared unfit to possess a firearm.
The Western Cape spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Eric Ntabazalila welcomed the sentence imposed.