Cape Town - Three robbers are to serve 20 years or more for bursting in and killing a policeman in his home.

Judge Nape Dolamo found that the trio’s ages, drug use, peer pressure and socio-economic conditions in which they had been living constituted substantial and compelling circumstances that justified a deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence of life. Also, they had spent two years in custody, he said in sentencing the trio on Thursday for the murder and robbery in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, early on August 17, 2012.

Abongile Thinzi, Ntsikelelo Gwiliza and Bulelani Ndevu were in their twenties at the time.

Police force members Yanga Tsefu and his partner, Thobela Nyalashe, were asleep when the security gate to their home was opened and their door kicked in. Tsefu was shot dead, while Nyalashe shielded their seven-month-old baby. The trio got away with cellphones, jewellery and wallets. Also taken was a wristwatch that was recovered later with the help of Gwiliza, who pointed it out to the police investigator.

Judge Dolamo, sitting in the Western Cape High Court, noted that all three of the men had been drug users. He said drugs had played a role in the crime.

He found Ndevu had played a “leading” role in the incident. Ndevu had called the other two to join him in getting money for tik. He had been the one who had kicked open the door, confronted Tsefu and fired the fatal shot. Among the aggravating circumstances was that the policeman had been shot in his home, the judge said.

“A human being’s home is considered to be his domain of safety.”

Gwiliza had shown an indication of remorse, but had “tried to minimise his role” in the offence. The other two had shown no remorse.

Ndevu was sentenced to serve 25 years’ imprisonment and the others 20 years.

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomed the sentences.

Cape Times