NELSPRUIT – The police management in Mpumalanga led by Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela the Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Mpumalanga, has welcomed hefty sentences handed down by the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court which was sitting in Delmas against four murderers. On Friday, 09 July 2021, the Court sentenced 31-year-old Lefa Mahashole, Thabiso Ramabele, aged 30, Thato Damane aged 27 and 50 year old Tankiso Morei for their involvement in the gruesome murder of Mr Lucky Mahlangu, aged 36, Mr Tsotang Ntjebe, aged 44 and Mr Bulelani Gqoboka, aged 48. The three victims were all murdered in December 2016.

The Court reached its decision to impose the sentences after details were heard on how a group of heavily armed men from Lesotho, went on rampage where they terrorised community members at Embalenhle. It is said that the quartet robbed defenceless victims of their personal items and also targeted business owners in the area. Some of their victims were killed and others survived.

Mahlangu was one of the unlucky ones as he was ambushed and sadly killed by the accused persons whilst in his business premises, on 16 December 2016.

Gqoboka who was a mine worker became a victim as well and his life was not spared as he too was brutally murdered by these men. Gqoboka was shot execution style inside a bus on 20 December 2016, whilst travelling to work during a period where some of his colleagues were on strike.

Ntjebe’s life was also cut short by these killers and he sadly succumbed to his injuries after he was shot on 22 December 2016.

Police opened cases regarding these heinous incidents where a team of experts were assembled to conduct an investigation. The astute members worked tirelessly in tracing the suspects and they made a breakthrough where the four were sniffed out from their different hiding places between December 2016 and January 2017. During the arrests, Damane and Morei were found in possession of illegal firearms and ammunition. Police managed to link the four men to the three murders as well as robbery incidents and the accused were therefore charged accordingly. They then went before court and were successfully convicted hence their sentencing as follows:

Mahashule was slapped with two life sentences with an additional 104 years to languish in prison, meanwhile, Ramabele got his share of two life sentences with 45 years punishment for his evil deeds. Damane and Morei, on the other hand were sentenced to one life imprisonment each with an additional 31 years in prison for their crimes.

Ramabele, Damane and Morei were each sentenced to ten years imprisonment for two counts of attempted murder.

The accused were further sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on four counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and four years for possession of illegal firearms.

Damane and Morei were further sentenced to five years imprisonment each on another count of possession of unlicensed firearm plus one year each for unlawful possession of ammunition.

All four accused were also sentenced to one year imprisonment each on three counts of unlawful possession of ammunition.

Mahashule was further sentenced to two years imprisonment for two counts of pointing with a firearm.

The court has ordered for the sentences to run concurrently with the life sentences. Each accused was further found to be unfit to possess a firearm.

Lieutenant General Manamela has lauded the exceptional work done by the Investigation team, the Prosecution as well as the Judiciary. “We are proud of the commitment and hard work shown by those that were involved in ensuring that justice is served for the victims. We hope that the sentence will serve as a deterrence to other would be criminals. Harsher sentences like these ones are befitting so that others may refrain from unbecoming behaviour,” said Lieutenant General Manamela.

Source: South Africa Police Service