Cheers as cop is jailed for shooting

2013-04-26 00:00

CHEERS erupted yesterday when a high court judge refused to grant policewoman Hlengiwe Mkhize (35) leave to appeal against her conviction for the “road rage” murder of Mlindeli Ngcobo (18).

Mkhize’s lawyer, Surendra Singh, did not ask the court for leave to appeal against Mkhize’s effective 10-year jail sentence for ­Ngcobo’s murder and four counts of attempted murder of the other occupants of his car, Sandile Madondo, Thabisile Phetha and Samokelisiwe and Mhlengi Ngcobo.

Acting Judge Sthembisa Maphumulo said the reason why Mkhize shot Ngcobo was not known because she had not “come clean” about it, but it seemed she had been angry.

The court rejected her claim that she was afraid she was the victim of a hijacking and found she had opened a false case of hijacking after the incident to “cover up” her actions.

The court accepted, however, that the shooting was not pre-planned and that the collision was due to Ngcobo’s failure to control his car, with the result that Mkhize had incurred damage to her vehicle.

This did not excuse the shooting, the judge said.

Maphumulo said the court had observed the trauma that the witnesses had suffered when they testified at the trial.

They included the youth who had managed to steer the car to safety after Ngcobo was shot.

The trauma and impact of Ngcobo’s death on his family were also detailed by his father, Abel Ngcobo.

The incident happened after Ngcobo’s car struck the back of Mkhize’s vehicle on the Bulwer road on July 7 last year.

Maphumulo took into account in Mkhize’s favour that she did not alight from her car brandishing her firearm and immediately shoot­­ ­Ngcobo after the collision.

Instead a discussion took place, after which Mkhize went back to her car, armed herself and fired two shots, one of which struck Ngcobo.

She said Mkhize had elected not to enter the witness box to “come clean” and tell the court what had motivated her.

Only her attorney, speaking from the bar, had told the court and Ngcobo’s family that Mkhize was remorseful.

Maphumulo said Mkhize’s failure to testify in that regard raised the question of whether she was remorseful or simply regretted the incident because of the consequences she faced.

She said it was aggravating that Mkhize was a law enforcement officer whose duty it was to protect the public.

Maphumulo said she also had regard to the fact that Mkhize was the primary caregiver of her two children — one of them still a baby of 11 months — and said they should not suffer unduly because of her crimes.

The court was told they were being cared for by family members.

The judge ordered that a social worker be appointed to check on the children’s welfare regularly throughout Mkhize’s time in jail.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, in a statement, welcomed the sentence, saying it sent a message to police officers that they would be held accountable by the criminal justice system if they misused their firearms and authority.

Speaking after the sentencing, Ngcobo’s father, Abel, confirmed that he would have liked to see a stiffer sentence imposed.

“She [Mkhize] can still see her children, but I won’t see my son again,” he said.

Supporters of Mkhize, including members of her church, declined to comment on the sentence.

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