Life sentences for two men convicted of murdering Joburg cops

The two suspects convicted were among a group of eight who robbed a liquor store. Five of the suspects were killed during shootouts while one was still on the run. The two suspects have also been handed an additional 63-years sentence each.

The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday slapped two suspects with life sentences and an additional 63-years for the murder of two SAPS members.

Mxolisi Mazibuko, 27, and Sthembiso Vincent Khumalo, 28, were convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances, two counts of murder, and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition as well as possession of a prohibited firearm, regional National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said.

Mjonondwane said the two were among a gang of eight who robbed Liquor City in Braamfischerville, Soweto on 9 September 2015.

Armed with firearms, the gang forced employees to hand over alcohol and cash (valued at R9,930), before fleeing in two getaway vehicles.

“The court heard that after the robbery, when the assailants were driving out of Dobsonville, they saw two warrant officers, Samuel Mchizama and Solly Bumbjy Maluleke.

“The police were on their way to the police station after consultation with a victim of rape. One of the robbers’ car’s ambushed the police officers, the second vehicle later joined and all robbers started shooting at the police. Mchizama died on the scene while Maluleke succumbed to the gunshot wounds on his way to hospital,” Mjonondwane said.

Mazibuko was arrested on the same day on a charge of rape and after the cops followed a lead about the whereabouts of the remaining seven, a high speed chase ensued resulting in three of the suspects being killed and another fleeing.

“A week later, police arrested three of the robbers – Simphiwe Mswane, 27, Khumalo and Mzwakhe Thabethe, 34, after being informed about a suspicious car in the vicinity of China Mall. On arrival police found rifles that were positively linked to the robbery and murder scene.

“Two of the robbers, Mswane and Thabethe were fatally shot by police in an attempt to recapture them after escaping from custody together with Mazibuko, who was successfully rearrested during that operation. The eighth suspect is still at large,” said Mjonondwane.

She said acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Geo Wassermann had argued before the court that the accused committed the crimes brazenly and had no regard for the rule of law.

He also argued that the most aggravating factors were that the accused were carrying firearms, one of those being a fully automatic rifle and went on to use these firearms in broad daylight to take the lives of law enforcement officers.

Welcoming the sentence, Gauteng Local Division Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Andrew Chauke said: “[The] killing of police officers in such a brutal way is a direct attack on the rule of law and calls for the harshest sentence. The NPA commends the investigating officer, warrant officer Mongezi Japhta Rikhotso, and the prosecutor for ensuring that these perpetrators are brought to book”.

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