Life sentence for police murder accused

The Polokwane High Court sentenced Phuthi William Mehlape (34) to life imprisonment and a total of 43 years in jail for charges relating to the death of a police officer, Constable Pieter Delange (30).

Constable Delange was attacked and killed on the night of 8 November 2018 between Bulawayo and Witklip Streets in Westenburg. De Lange was on duty together with a CPF member keeping an observation with regards to drug dealings in the area when two vehicles, a white BMW and a white Mercedes Benz stopped next to his vehicle and started shooting at him. De Lange retaliated unfortunately, he succumbed to the injuries on his way to hospital. A hijacked BMW that was used by the assailants was found abandoned in the vicinity.

The Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team in Polokwane commenced their investigation. In January 2019, the team arrested Mehlape, Peter Mswazi (31) and Betty Mmamosibudi Maphotho (41) where an unlicensed firearm and a stolen vehicle were recovered. During the investigation, Mehlape and Mswazi were linked to a hijacking incident that occurred on Compensate Street in Polokwane, the day on which Constable De lange was killed.

After numerous court appearances, the accused were convicted and sentenced. Mehlape was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing De Lange, 15 years for possession of firearm, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, eight years for kidnapping and five years for possession of stolen vehicle. Mswazi was only sentenced to 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and eight years for kidnapping. Maphotho received a three-year suspended sentence for defeating the ends of justice.

The National Head for Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya welcomes the life imprisonment imposed on Constable De Lange’s murderer by the High Court. He further applauded the investigation and prosecution team for their unrelenting efforts during investigation which led to several linkages of the accused whilst investigating the murder and follow-up prosecutions. “I hope that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to those who might be thinking of attacking law enforcement officials,” General Lebeya said.

“The Police Ministry welcomes this sentence, especially as the country marks September as the start of police safety month. This life sentence emphasises the point that there should always be the harshest punishment handed down to criminals who commit crimes against the state, such as killing of police officers.”

Source: South African Police Service

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