Cop killers to spend life be­hind bars

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TANKISO MAKHETHA

TWO men who am­bushed po­lice of­fi­cers re­spond­ing to a rob­bery ,killing them, will spend the rest of their lives be­hind bars.

Eric Lukhanyo Bango, 33, and Wise­man Thokozani Maz­ibuko, 32, were handed four life terms and more than 100 years im­pris­on­ment af­ter they were con­victed on 12 counts in­clud­ing mur­der, at­tempted mur­der, rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances, pos­ses­sion of a firearm with­out a li­cence and pos­ses­sion of am­mu­ni­tion.

They were sen­tenced on Wed­nes­day at the Vereenig­ing High Court.

The judge also hit each with a fur­ther 36 years for at­tempted mur­der, rob­bery with ag­gra­vated cir­cum­stances, pos­ses­sion of il­le­gal firearms and am­mu­ni­tion. A third man, Nh­lanhla Ma­lope, 33, was sen­tenced to seven years in prison for be­ing in pos­ses­sion of a firearm and am­mu­ni­tion which be­longed to one of the of­fi­cers.

War­rant Of­fi­cer Doc­tor Mo­hagi and Con­sta­ble Daniel Tshakela were sta­tioned at the Vereenig­ing po­lice sta­tion in 2012 when they re­sponded to a house rob­bery call.

Bango, Maz­ibuko and Ma­lope, who were all armed at the time, had ac­costed a fam­ily in their drive­way, taken them into their house be­fore ran­sack­ing it while one of them re­mained out­side the house.

When Mo­hagi and Tshakela ar­rived at the house to re­spond to the fam­ily’s dis­tressed call, they were met with a flurry of bul­lets as one of the three, who had re­mained out­side, opened fire on them be­fore they could get out of their ve­hi­cle.

Ac­cord­ing to an eye­wit­nesses at the time, one of the of­fi­cers was shot in the head while the other was shot in the chest be­fore they were dragged out of their ve­hi­cle. The men took an R5 ri­fle and two 9mm pis­tols be­long­ing to Mo­hagi and Tshakela.

Maz­ibuko and Bango then jumped into the SAPS van and drove off, hi­jack­ing a mo­torist along the way, rob­bing him of his cell­phone be­fore dump­ing the ve­hi­cle. Po­lice tracked Bango in Wol­maransstad, North West, while Maz­ibuko was found in KwaMh­langa, Mpumalanga.

At the time of the mur­ders, then-na­tional po­lice com­mis­sioner Riah Phiyega said: “De­spite the con­tin­u­ous on­slaught on our mem­bers, our of­fi­cers con­tinue to put their lives in the line of fire to pro­tect the in­no­cent and de­fence­less of our coun­try,” while con­vey­ing her con­do­lences to their fam­i­lies and loved ones.

In that same week, Con­sta­ble Eianah Ran­gani was shot dead and a sec­ond po­lice of­fi­cer was wounded when they tried to stop and search a ve­hi­cle with three oc­cu­pants in Hill­brow.

Act­ing Gaut­eng Pro­vin­cial Com­mis­sioner, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Eric Nkuna wel­comed the sen­tenc­ing of the two, say­ing it was through tire­less and com­mit­ment of the po­lice that jus­tice had been served.

“We are happy that crim­i­nals who kill po­lice of­fi­cers and rob mem­bers of the com­mu­nity of the ser­vice they de­serve, will spend most of their life time in prison. We wish the sen­tenc­ing of th­ese crim­i­nals will send a strong mes­sage to crim­i­nals that po­lice will leave no stone un­turned to make sure that killers of po­lice of­fi­cers will never rest un­til they are brought to jus­tice,” Nkusa said.

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