Five cop killers slapped with life sentences

EASTERN CAPE � Masithembele Mbali (39), Simphiwe Mkheselele (35) and Cingile Jamda (35), Nceba Gcanga (34) and Xolisile Maawu (34) were sentenced on 28 February 2019 by the Lady Frere High Court to life imprisonment for the June 2016 murder of Constable Joshua Vincent Gungqa (43).

Constable Gungqa was shot and killed on Friday the 17th of June 2016 when a group of seven armed men stormed into Spar in Cala. While they wrestled with Gungqa in an attempt to disarm him, the off duty police officer was shot and fatally wounded. Two alleged suspects were also shot and killed at the scene during a shootout between Spar's security guards and the criminals. Mbali, Mkheselele, Jamda, Gcanga and Maawu took approximately R24 000 from one of the tills and fled the scene with the deceased Constable's firearm.

Mbali, Mkheselele, Jamda and Maawu were arrested on the 18th of June 2016, a day after the murder of Constable Gungqa. They were arrested in Cradock through an intelligence driven operation which was conducted by members of the Hawks in conjunction with the Queenstown Public Order Policing (POP) and the Cradock K9 Units. Two 9 millimetre pistols were found in their possession. Gcanga was arrested on the 20th of June 2016 in Butterworth by the members of the Ngcobo and Cala police stations in conjunction with the Queenstown Public Order Policing members.

The five were sentenced to three life imprisonments for the three murders, to a total of 30-years imprisonment for two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, to two-years for possession of firearms with intent to commit an offence, two-years for unlawful possession of firearms, and to two-years for unlawful possession of ammunition. Maawu, Mkheselele and Jamda were sentenced to four years imprisonment for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm.

The sentences will run concurrently. Consequently, Mbali, Mkheselele, Jamda and Gcanga will serve one life and 15-years direct imprisonment. Maawu on the other hand will serve one life and 20-years direct imprisonment as he is the one who shot and killed Constable Gungqa.

The National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya has congratulated the investigating and the prosecutorial teams for the achievement.

The police Minister Mr Bheki Cele has welcomed the judgement. Safety of our members when executing their duties is at the heart of the SAPS's strategic imperatives. We welcome the life sentences handed down by the court, police officers are a national asset. Killing of a members of the South African Police Service is a direct attack on the State. We will continue to work closely with the criminal justice cluster to ensure perpetrators of these heinous crime are brought to book and face the full might of the law said Minister Cele

Source: South African Police Service