KZN cop killer sentenced to 48 years

20 July 2023 - 15:07
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One of five men accused of murdering a KwaZulu-Natal police officer and robbing him of his firearm to use it in a faction fight was sentenced to 48 years in jail after he pleaded guilty. Stock image.
One of five men accused of murdering a KwaZulu-Natal police officer and robbing him of his firearm to use it in a faction fight was sentenced to 48 years in jail after he pleaded guilty. Stock image.
Image: Elvis Ntombela

One of five men accused of murdering a KwaZulu-Natal police officer and robbing him of his firearm to use it in a faction fight has been sentenced to 48 years' imprisonment after he pleaded guilty. 

Philani Vincent Yayo, 33, was sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Monday. 

Yayo, with four accomplices, faced 18 counts — four of murder, attempted murder, five counts of robbery, four of unlawful possession of a firearm and four of unlawful possession of ammunition.

The trial involving the four other accused is still ongoing. 

Yayo pleaded guilty to four charges — the murder of Sgt Nkosinathi Phindokuhle Ngcobo, 41, from Richards Bay SAPS on August 27 2021, near Kwandaya, Esikhaleni, and robbery, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. 

In his plea, Yayo said on the day of the incident he was with his co-accused Njabulo Nqeku Mazibuko and Xolani Sandile Mlotshwa. They drove from Mtubatuba to Esikhaleni to visit Siphelele Funokwakhe Gwala and Lungani Mkhize, who are also accused.

On their arrival in Esikhaleni, they went to a tavern where his four co-accused consumed liquor but he didn't. 

Yayo said Mkhize suggested they go to another township to look for or obtain firearms because Gwala and two unknown men did not have firearms.

Mkhize suggested they rob a police officer or a security guard of a firearm as they were involved in faction fights in the area. They agreed, jumped into his car and went to Esikhaleni township where they saw a marked police van.

The accused followed the police van until it took a turn-off onto a dirt road and he kept following it until it parked on the side of the road next to a homestead.

Yayo drove past it. The others said he should drop them off at a spot ahead of the police van, but also hidden from the van. He should wait there. However, when they left, he moved a bit and stopped where he could see the headlights of the police van shining.

All four of them walked back to the police van and suddenly he heard several gunshots. Though it was dusk and he was unable to measure the distance from where he had parked to the police van, he could see they were shooting at the van, Yayo said in his plea.

They came running to his car, with Mkhize carrying a pistol and magazine taken from the police officer. The others had a police bulletproof vest and police jacket and Gwala had a cellphone. 

They drove back to the tavern, drank throughout the night and only left in the early hours of the morning to go back to Mtubatuba.

Yayo was arrested on September 3 2021, while sleeping at his house in Mtubatuba and was found with a 9mm pistol with a filed off serial number.

Though he foresaw Ngcobo might be killed, he continued to be part of the plan, driving the car.

He was sentenced to 25 years for murder, 10 years for robbery, 10 years for unlawful possession of a firearm and three years for unlawful possession of ammunition, which will run concurrently.

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