The Provincial Commissioner of Police in Limpopo Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe has welcomed the hefty sentences in which the Regional Court in Thohoyandou condemned three men aged between 35 and 53 to two life imprisonments plus a collective more than one hundred years direct imprisonment on Friday 24 February 2023.
The three accused; Mahlasela Mkhabele(53), Fernando Mandlazi(35), and Santos Novela(44), were all found guilty of murder of a Police Constable who had responded to an armed robbery on 6 March 2017.
The court heard how a group of suspects travelled from Thembisa in Gauteng Province to Makhuva village in Giyani using a Toyota Quantum.
The suspects went on a robbing spree targeting two shops owned by foreign nationals and robbed them of cellphones, groceries and cash amount of money.
Immediately after the local Police were alerted about the incident, they started searching for the suspects and the Combi fitting the description given was spotted on the road between Nsavulani and Shikhumba villages.
When police approached the Quantum, the suspects opened fire on them, instantly killing the 38-year-old Constable Mhangwani. A shootout ensued where one suspect was shot. The other suspects evaded the arrest by fleeing the scene on foot and others sped off in the said vehicle.
The unidentified suspect succumbed to the injuries on arrival at the hospital.
The driver Mkhabele, was apprehended the next day with assistance of the community members while hiding in the bushes. The other three suspects were also arrested in Sebayeng while driving towards Polokwane and the getaway vehicle was seized. Police also recovered three firearms and ammunition during the arrest.
The cases were transferred to the Provincial Organised Crime Investigation and allocated to both Warrant Officer Khazamula Robert Chabalala and Sergeant Ian Mabasa who did an outstanding work and all the three suspects were kept in custody throughout the trial proceedings.
The three accused were handed two life sentences each for two counts of murder and a collective more than one hundred years imprisonment for attempted murders, robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition as well as Contravention of the Immigration Act.
They were all declared unfit to possess a firearm and ammunition.
The Provincial Commissioner of police in Limpopo Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe has praised the investigating team for the sterling job which resulted in well-deserved sentences.
The fourth accused, Jaoguim Antonia Ngobeni (42) escaped from custody in 2019 and he is still at large.
Police appeal to anyone who might have information about the suspect’s whereabouts to contact the nearest police station or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.