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ZAMA-ZAMA’S SENTENCED FOR POLICE MURDER AND POSSESSION OF UNWROUGHT PRECIOUS METAL: GAUTENG
2022/05/18      |  Written By:  Captain N Mulamu   |   Province:  Gauteng

GAUTENG – Major General Ebrahim Kadwa, the Hawks’ Provincial Head commended without reservation, efforts and dedication displayed by the investigation team as well as the justice system for successfully removing perpetrators from the streets on illegal mining criminality.

This was evident on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 when the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria effectively convicted the accused charged with murder, attempted murder, unlawful possession of illegal and unlicensed firearms, ammunition, and transportation of unwrought precious metal. Subsequent to the accused’s conviction, the court sentenced the nine men to effective 10 years direct imprisonment on 12 May 2022.

In July 2016, the National Intervention Unit followed up on intelligence received related to suspicious illegal mining activities in the Benoni area, east of Johannesburg.

Authorities conducted a sting operation on the same day at Kingsway in the Benoni precinct, where they successfully intercepted a positively identified Toyota Quantum with twelve occupants. Police were shot at while approaching the suspicious vehicle, where one of the police officials, Constable Khumo Kingsley Tsineng was wounded.

Witnessing one of their unit members on the ground, police returned fire and as a result, one of the accused, Mboneleni Manqele who was 38 years old at the time, was fatally wounded with two others injured.

The unit effectively apprehended nine accused, Siphamandla Victor Xulu (39), Mehluleli Ndlovu (39), Phikwankosi Mbongiseni Shezi (37), Bhekani Bangelakhe Sithole (53), Zakhele Mdletshe (47), Philani Bhekimpilo Mdlolo (39), Kwenzokwakhe Mnchunu (34), Bonginkosi Mfaniseni Msweli (35), and Bonabenza Andile Mdletshe (26). Upon searching the accused’s vehicle, authorities found five illegal and unlicensed semi-automatic pistols, ammunition, and unwrought precious metal. Authorities collected substantial evidence against the perpetrators to assist with extensive investigation.

The case was transferred to the Hawks’ Serious Organised Investigation in Germiston for further probing. The two accused, Zamokwakhe Petros Buthelezi (35) and Thokozani Zaphina Gumede (33) who were taken to hospital for medical treatment, later succumbed to gunshot wounds. Meanwhile, Constable Tsineng aged 31 at the time, passed away three months later in hospital.

The High Court found the accused guilty on all counts including killing the on-duty police official. The accused were successfully sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for counts of murder and wholly suspended for 10 years on condition that they are not found guilty of the same offense or use of firearm; sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for attempted murder; sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for possession of illegal semi-automatic pistols; sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for possession for unlicensed firearms; 10 years imprisonment for possession of ammunition; and five years imprisonment for illegal transportation of unwrought precious metal. The accused are to serve all sentences concurrently with the counts of murders.

“The accused’s sentence may seem minimum but we are pleased that their stay in prison will not be a smooth ride. The public need to understand the impact and dangers caused by illegal mining trade in the country. We urge communities to report any suspicious illegal mining activities to authorities for further investigation and bring criminals to book,” added Major General Kadwa.