Life terms for ex-reservists

2012-07-04 00:00

TWO former Durban police reservists, Thabani Mchunu and Pretty Khuzwayo, were sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for the murder of a colleague.

Reserve Sergeant Mandlenkosi Thusi was gunned down at his home in Inanda on May 8, 2009.

Mchunu (27) and Khuzwayo (40) were also sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for their role in the robbery of 15 firearms from the satellite police station where they were based in February 2009. Thusi was a key witness in that case.

Civilian Petros Sithole (40) was convicted only of robbery with aggravating circumstances of the firearms, for which he was also jailed for 15 years.

The court found that Thusi was murdered because he had pointed out Sithole as one of the robbers in a police identity parade.

Thusi’s widow, Nelly, and his daughter, Sphumelele, who attended the trial, told The Witness that they were “very happy” with the sentences meted out to the three accused.

Smiling with satisfaction they shook hands with the investigating officer, Ajith Singh Ganess of Durban’s Organised Crime Unit.

Nelly Thusi said her family had suffered great hardship as a result of losing her husband, who was a breadwinner. She survives by working as a hawker. She and her late husband had three children, aged 25, 20 and 14 years.

Judge Jacqui Henriques found that Mchunu had been instrumental in planning both the robbery of firearms at the police Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at Boscombe Terrace in Durban on February 26, 2009 and Thusi’s murder soon thereafter.

Khuzwayo had gone along with the plans.

The evidence showed that Khuzwayo gave Mchunu a firearm and had sat in a vehicle outside Thusi’s home while Mchunu and another man entered the house and Thusi was shot.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Henriques, sitting with assessor Gerhard Barnard, agreed with submissions by state advocate Rea Mina that there were circumstances that were out of the ordinary and were aggravating factors in the case.

These included the fact that of the 15 firearms stolen from the JOC, only five were recovered. This meant that 10 firearms were still illegally in circulation and more than likely being used to commit crimes, Mina submitted.

In addition she said Mchunu and Khuzwayo, who were police reservists at the time of the crimes, had been involved in robbing their own station and murdered their own colleague, Thusi, who was a key witness in the case.

Mina urged the court, for these reasons, to impose a sentence higher than the prescribed minimum of 15 years imprisonment for the robbery.

However, Judge Henriques said after considering all the relevant factors she believed that the minimum sentences prescribed by the legislature in respect of both the robbery and murder were appropriate.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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