Cop killers get life plus 60 years in jail for 2015 murders
Two cop killers have been sentenced to decades behind bars for murders they committed in 2015.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Tuesday that the high court in Johannesburg had earlier sentenced the killers of two police officers to two life terms plus 63 years.
Mxolisi Mazibuko, 27, and Sthembiso Vincent Khumalo, 28, were convicted of two counts of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition and possession of a prohibited firearm, the NPA said.
According to the authority, the two were part of an eight-man gang involved in an armed robbery at a liquor store in Soweto on September 9 2015. They made off with R9,930 and fled in two vehicles.
The NPA said that the gang came across two police officers, Samuel Mchizama and Solly Bumbjy Maluleke, as they fled. The officers were on their way to police station after consulting a rape victim.
“One of robbers’ cars 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,” said NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane.
Later that day, Mazibuko was arrested on a charge of rape. It was then that they linked him to the bottle store heist and subsequent police killings.
“One of the investigating team realised that he was wearing the same clothes as the suspects in the video footage obtained from the robbery scene,” said Mjonondwane.
Subsequently, police followed leads from an informer about the whereabouts of other robbery suspects.
“A high-speed chase ensued, which resulted in three of the assailants being killed in a shoot-out with the police, while the other suspects managed to flee.
“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.”
The drama linked to the incident didn't end there. “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,” said the NPA statement.
The eighth suspect in the robbery is still at large.
Gauteng director of public prosecutions advocate Andrew Chauke welcomed the sentence. “Killing of police officers in such a brutal way is a direct attack on the rule of law and calls for the harshest sentence,” he said.
“The NPA commends the investigating officer, warrant officer Mongezi Japhta Rikhotso, and the prosecutor for ensuring that these perpetrators were brought to book.”