Cop killers to spend life behind bars
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.