Thomo Micheal Ngoato and Paulos Fourier made their bail applications

PIETERMARITZBURG - Four men have been sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to life imprisonment and further lengthy terms for offenses including murder, rape, and robbery committed in the Esikhaleni area near Richards Bay in 2015, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Sunday.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court convicted and sentenced the four murderers on Friday, Lt-Col Thulani Zwane said.

Sabelo Zulu, 36, was sentenced to three life terms for killing two people and raping a woman. He was further sentenced to 60 years imprisonment on three counts of robbery and five years for kidnapping.

Bongani Nkwanyana, 41, was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and a further 35 years on two counts of robbery. Musa Cele, 30, was handed life imprisonment for murder and 15 years for robbery. He also got 15 years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and a further five years for kidnapping.

Nkululeko Zwane, 22, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for each of two counts of murder. He was further sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on two counts of robbery.  

In January 2015, the four men terrorized the community of Mandlankala and tuck shop owners. The first incident occurred at a tuck shop at Mandlankala, where they shot dead a shop owner. They stole cash and cellphones before fleeing the scene, Zwane said.

"On the next day, they approached Mfundo Mbhele, 35, who was sitting in his vehicle with his girlfriend. Mfundo was shot dead and his firearm and cellphone was taken. The accused drove away in his vehicle with the woman inside. Later, the woman was raped. The accused continued with their spree where they robbed another tuck shop in the area. Cellphones and cash were taken.

"Esikhaleni detective members started their intensive investigation, searching for these criminals. Information was received that one of the accused is in hospital after he was allegedly shot by his own gang. He was traced in hospital and through further investigation the other three were arrested and two unlicensed firearms were recovered. They were linked in these robberies and killings," Zwane said.

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.

African News Agency (ANA)