Hitman sentenced to 20 years for killing Durban metro cop
A KwaZulu-Natal hitman who killed eThekwini metro police Capt Zwelakhe Ntombela in May after being enlisted by a family member was sentenced to an effective 20 years' imprisonment by the Durban high court on Monday.
According to a guilty plea read by National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor Krishen Shah, Mandlenkosi Ntombela, 27, who is not related to the cop, was genuinely remorseful for his actions and had been co-operative with police.
The captain, who had more than 30 years' experience in the Durban metro police, was attached to VIP protection at the time of his death.
“Ntombela pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for his unlawful actions and the sanction that is to follow upon his conviction,” said Shah.
According to his plea, in May Ntombela received a call from a person identified as Khulani Cele, who is serving a jail term in prison.
Cele asked Ntombela to meet Sthembiso Khumalo, who was not known to him, and go with him to Umlazi to fetch a Suzuki Swift.
He agreed and met Khumalo and they went to Umlazi and parked at Mega City shopping centre. A middle-aged woman driving a Mercedes-Benz arrived and Khumalo went to meet her. The two talked before calling him.
Ntombela was then handed keys for the Suzuki. Khumalo told him to drive the Suzuki and follow him. They went to Newlands and then to Maphumulo, north of Durban, which was Khumalo's home. Khumalo asked Ntombela to remove the tracking device from the Suzuki, which he did.
On May 3 he received a call from Cele, who instructed him to drive to Umlazi to meet the same woman he had met with Khumalo as there was a job he wanted him to do.
He went to Khumalo's home and was handed keys for the Suzuki and a pistol loaded with five live rounds. He drove to lUmazi and waited on a road in V section.
While travelling he was in constant communication with Cele, who kept telling him “kuzophela ukuhlupheka [you will no longer be poor]”.
He met the woman he met with Khumalo and was told of a plot to kill the metro police captain. He was driven by the woman to a house and shown spots which protected his visibility and would allow him to shoot the victim.
He was driven back to their meeting spot, received R,1200 for petrol expenses and a police uniform which allegedly belonged to the metro officer. He drove to the address he was taken to earlier in the day — the house belonging to the officer — and waited until dusk.
The captain came home and Ntombela shot him in the head. After the shooting he drove to Maphumulo, where he returned the firearm and police uniform.
Judge Kate Pillay accepted the plea, saying while the killing of any individual is a serious offence, the killing of a police officer was deliberately offensive.
She was satisfied after hearing the testimony of the deceased's brother that the accused's co-operation may lead to the arrests of others who were part of the plan.
“He [accused] has chosen to co-operate and face the enormity of his actions,” said Pillay.
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