The high court in Thohoyandou has sentenced  Mahlasela Dan Mkhabela (42) as well as Mozambican murderers Almando Fernando Mandlazi (39) and Santos Novela (39) to two life imprisonment plus 104 years imprisonment respectively.

They were convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery with aggravating circumstances, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, attempted murder, unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition, and illegal immigration.

The court heard that on 07 March 2017. The heavily armed men were driving in a minibus from Tembisa in Gauteng. They were heading to Makhuva Village in Giyani, Limpopo to rob the businesses owned by Ethiopian and Bangladeshi nationals.

The group of 13 men started to attack the shops in the early hours of the morning by opening a big hole in the walls of the shops and took groceries, money and cell phones, while assaulting the shop owners and threatening them with firearms.

POLICE TIP OFF ON MOZAMBICAN MURDERERS 

After robbing shops, the police officers received a tip-off about the shop that was robbed at Makhuva village and the description of the vehicle used.

 Police officers then went out to look for the motor vehicle, and along the way, police officers met the suspects and stopped them. The suspects started shooting at the police officers who retaliated, and one police officer and one suspect were killed.

Accused persons then fled the scene and ran to the bushes.  Community members joined police officers in search of the accused and managed to arrest Mkhabela. Novela and Mandlazi were arrested by police officers on their way to Polokwane.

The accused pleaded not guilty to 14 charges and the court found them guilty as charged. During the trial, Mkhabela testified that he was robbed of his taxi by one of the passengers whom he was driving from Tembisa to Giyani to attend a funeral. Whereas they were a mini-army which was heading to attack shops.

SERIOUS CRIMES COMMITTED BY THE PERPETRATORS 

In aggravation of sentence, Advocate Zwodangani Mabodi submitted that all accused persons committed a serious, heinous offences. A police officer was killed in the line of duty in a cold-blooded manner. He further prayed to the court that the accused persons disrespected the rule of law by attacking law enforcement officers. Therefore the court should sentence them to life imprisonment.

Judge Francis Kganyago remarked that the accused are asking the court for mercy to the court. But they never showed mercy to the police officers. The court agreed with the state that the accused deserve to be punished as they have previous convictions. One of them committed these crimes while he was still under parole. The accused were sentenced to two life terms and 104 years imprisonment.

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