A man found guilty of setting a police officer’s house alight, with him inside, has been handed a lengthy sentence in the High Court in Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal.
The sentence, delivered this week, will see Sabelo Gina, 37, serve a life sentence for murder, as well as 65 years for arson, attempted murder and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The murder took place in the early hours of 5 March 2016.
Sergeant Sthembiso Dusse (35), who was stationed at the Empangeni Public Order Police Unit, was asleep at his home in H2 Section in Esikhaleni when unknown people attacked him. His firearm and other belongings were stolen during the incident.
After the robbery, his house was set alight while he was inside.
“He was burnt beyond recognition. Screams were heard by the neighbours emanating from the house. They tried to put [out] the fire but all was in vain,” police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said.
A month later, 37-year-old Gina was arrested at Esikhaleni after he was found in possession of the officer’s firearm. A shotgun and other items were found hidden in the bushes at Mandlankala Reserve in Esikhaleni.
“Further investigation revealed that the late police officer’s firearm was used in the shooting of two persons at Esikhaleni and [the suspect] was positively linked to the two attempted murders,” Naicker said.
The sentence on Thursday came just hours before the death of another officer, who was killed on Friday at Nsuze when responding to a business robbery at around midnight.
“A group of heavily armed men entered the business premises at Nsuze and held up security guards. The two police officers responded to a report of a robbery on the premises as the thugs were attempting to break into the safe.
“The criminals opened fire at the police officers as they approached the premises, killing 38-year-old Sergeant Nokwanda Patricia Sithembile Phakhati,” Naicker said.
The robbers fled after the shootout. It was not yet known if anything was stolen.