Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Bloemfontein: A 34-year-old man was on Monday, 13 May 2019, sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by the Free State High Court after he was convicted for murder of a Police officer attached to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI), commonly known as the Hawks.

Acting Judge; Martha Murray, sentenced Springkaan Maema to 20 years for murder of Captain Qeya Jonas Tshabalala (52) who was attached to the Serious Organised Crime Unit of The Hawks in Bloemfontein.

Maema was sentenced to an additional 13 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Tshabalala was shot and killed on 24 May 2018 after he was attacked while he was attending to a complaint in Phelindaba, Bloemfontein. Maema and Simon Masiu, who is still at large, as well as two other unknown men, got into the house where Tshabalala was attending to a complaint and several shots were fired. Tshabalala returned fire, wounding Masiu. He, however, succumbed due to the bullet wounds he sustained after the exchange of fire.

One of the assailants lost his cellular phone at the crime scene. They made off with his official cellular phone, service pistol and the state vehicle (Toyota Double Cab Bakkie) which was found abandoned near Jimmy Roos school in Dewetsdorp, with blood stains inside. The police arrested Maema not far from where the vehicle was abandoned.

It appears that Masiu succeeded in entering Lesotho and went for treatment for his wound at a hospital. He, however, disappeared from the hospital before he could be extradited to South Africa.

The police found a cellular phone in Maema’s possession at the time he was arrested and cellular phone mapping evidence placed him in the vicinity of the crime scene at Phelindaba at the time of the killing of the deceased and all along the road to Dewetsdorp where the abandoned bakkie was found. The evidence obtained from the tracking system in the vehicle also corresponds with the cellular phone mapping.

Arguing in aggravation of sentence, State Prosecutor, Advocate Moseme Lencoe, stated that the robbers did not only try to subdue Captain Tshabalala so that they could take the car keys, but they shot him four times, with two of the bullets fired at a close range and this was a sign that they shot to kill.

“The attack on Captain Tshabalala was brutal, cruel and unnecessary. There was no need to kill the deceased just to get the keys of the vehicle. Even though the accused said he is remorseful, the court should not attach any weight to that because he changed his version every time he realised that he is cornered. The death of the deceased has also affected the family adversely as it was stated by his daughter during her testimony.” said Lencoe.

Acting Judge; Martha Murray, was convinced that there are prospects of rehabilitation, which justify a lesser sentence. She subsequently sentenced Maema to 20 years for murder and 13 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances. The judge ordered the sentences to run concurrently and Maema will effectively serve 20 years in prison.

The acting Director of Public Prosecutions in the Free State; Advocate Navilla Somaru, has commended the good work done by the investigating officer, Sergeant Buisile Shadrack Jona and Advocate Lencoe in ensuring that the accused is punished for his evil deeds.