Three life terms for pair who killed Mpumalanga cop and her husband
Pretoria - The High Court in Mpumalanga has sentenced Freeman Thulani Maisame, 33, and Martin Mohlala, 27, to three life sentences for the murder of police officer Thembisile Fortunate Ndlovu and her husband, Jabulani Harry Khoza.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga said the pair got the third additional life sentence for the murder of their accomplice, Mandla Sambo, who died during the attack in Ndlovu and Khoza's home.
“The pair was convicted on three counts of murder, two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, pointing of a firearm, discharge of a firearm in a public area, and two counts of possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition,” said NPA Mpumalanga provincial spokesperson Monica Nyuswa.
She said the crimes were committed in the district of Thulamahashe in Agincourt, a town in the Bushbuckridge local municipality, between November 30, 2018, and December 1, 2018.
Nyuswa said in one incident, the perpetrators arrived at a place near Thulani Primary School, where the victims were preparing for a wedding.
Nyuswa said they pointed a firearm at the victims and demanded their cellphones, vehicle keys, wallets, belts and shoes. They then stole a motor vehicle – a silver VW Jetta – in which they fled the scene.
"On 1 December 2018, they arrived at the Halfway Liquor Restaurant using the said vehicle. They pointed firearms at the patrons, fired shots into the ceiling of the tavern and ordered them to lie on the ground and proceeded to the teller machine and took money,” said Nyuswa.
The trio also grabbed airtime and cigarettes and abandoned the motor vehicle outside the premises.
“On 1 December 2018, they broke into the house of the police officer (Thembisile Fortune Ndlovu) and her husband (Jabulani Harry Khoza). They demanded keys to a vehicle that was parked in the yard. A shoot-out ensued between Ndlovu, Khoza and the three suspects. As a result, Thembisile Ndlovu and one of the attackers, Mandla Sambo, died on the scene,” said Nyuswa.
Khoza was rushed to hospital but later died of his injuries.
Maisame and Mohlala were arrested in different places days after the incident.
“In court, both accused denied their involvement. They said they were not at the scene of the crime and were drinking at a certain tavern the whole night. The prosecutor, senior State advocate Derrick Mashego, led evidence of several witnesses, including testimonies of the two patrons who identified Maisame and Mohlala as the culprits. Mohlala was pointed out at a parade, which confirmed that both accused were at the scene of the crime,” said Nyuswa.
Sambo's wife corroborated the evidence of the patrons. Nyuswa said a neigbour of the deceased couple, Ndlovu and Khoza, also testified about the murders.
“In aggravation of sentence, the State submitted to court that this was a brutal murder. The State said Ndlovu and Khoza were attacked in their bedroom and shots were fired in front of their 6-year-old daughter just to hijack their vehicle. What made the case worse was that one of the deceased in the matter was a police officer,” said Nyuswa.
“The State further submitted that interested persons and the community at large should receive some recognition in the sentences that the courts imposed, and it is not irrelevant to bear in mind that if sentences for serious crimes are too lenient, the administration of justice may fall into disrepute and injured person may be inclined to take the law into their own hands.”
The court further sentenced the pair to 15 years' imprisonment on each count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, five years' imprisonment on each count of discharge of a firearm, five years' imprisonment each for possession of an unlicensed firearm, and three years' imprisonment each on a count of possession of ammunition.
The court further declared the pair unfit to possess a firearm.
“The (Mpumalanga) acting director of public prosecutions, advocate Matric Luphondo, commended the excellent work of the prosecution and investigating team which ensured that the perpetrators were brought to book,” said Nyuswa.
African News Agency (ANA)