"You showed no mercy to Lucky Dube, therefore it is difficult for the court to show mercy on this sentence," a Johannesburg high court judge said when he sentenced the musician's killers to life imprisonment.
Sifiso Mhlanga, 33, Julius Gxowa, 30, and Mbuti Mabe, 29, will spend 83 years in prison before they are considered for parole.
In October 18 2007 they attempted to hijack Dube while he was parked outside his brother's house in Rosettenville. When he resisted, Mhlanga shot him twice at close range. The reggae music icon died at the scene in full view of his son Thokozani.
Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Seun Moshidi said Dube's murder had given South Africa a bad reputation.
The three killers were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 15 years for attempted hijacking, 18 years for robbery, five years for possession of a firearm, which applies only to Mhlanga and Gxowa. Mabe got another 18 years for a separate hijacking charge.
The sentence will run concurrently meaning the men will serve all their sentences and 25 years more before they are considered for parole.
Judge Moshidi lashed out at the three, saying what they did was a cowardly act. He said they should not be allowed back into society until they had been reformed.
He said the court had been cautious not to overemphasise Dube's celebrity status because there were other victims involved.
He was referring to two people who were also hijacked by the killers.
The two victims were spared their lives while their possessions were taken by force.
"Dube was not so lucky. He lost his life at 43 in a senseless, unnecessary, violent hijacking," he said.