No jail for cop who killed suspect

Constable Titus Mabela aims his gun at Mlungisi Khulekani Mpanza before shooting him in the chest. The incident in Krugersdorp was captured by a CCTV camera in the area.
Constable Titus Mabela aims his gun at Mlungisi Khulekani Mpanza before shooting him in the chest. The incident in Krugersdorp was captured by a CCTV camera in the area.

A police constable who shot and killed a man in Krugersdorp in a case that was deemed an act of police brutality, was handed a suspended sentence for murder yesterday.

Constable Titus Mabela, 30, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, suspended for five years, by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg for the November 2015 incident.

The court found that had the deceased, Mlungisi Khulekani Mpanza, not shot at the police officers first, he would still be alive.

Judge Frans van der Westhuizen said Mabela was not a criminal.

"If the deceased did not shoot at the police first, clearly any intention to harm the deceased could have been avoided and the deceased would be alive today.

"The accused is not a criminal. He is not a danger to society, on the contrary he is an asset to society," he said.

Mabela and his colleagues Puleng Sebetswa, 38, and Jason Segole, 35, were arrested and charged with murder and defeating the ends of justice.

The fourth officer, Dipuo Chipu, 39, was only charged for defeating the ends of justice. Segole and Chipu were acquitted while Sebetswa was only convicted of common assault. On the day of the incident, Mabela and his colleagues had responded to a complaint by a bottle store owner in Krugersdorp who complained about Mpanza.

Upon arrival, Mpanza shot at the police several times before he fled on foot.

The officers gave chase.

Mabela walked up to Mpanza, who had fallen to the ground, with his firearm drawn. He aimed at him and shot him in the chest.

Sebetswa then walked to Mpanza and kicked him as he laid on the ground.

In his defence, Sebetswa said he kicked Mpanza to ascertain if he was still alive.

Van der Westhuizen said he did not find it necessary to remove Mabela from society.

"This was an irrational act committed by the accused, who I already said is not a criminal. This murder was committed on spur-of-the-
moment and was not planned.

"I am of the opinion that the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors," the judge said.

He added that he did not agree with the argument made by the state that Mabela showed no remorse.

"I am of the view that he will never do something like this again."

Van der Westhuizen fined Sebetswa R500 or 50 days imprisonment.

However, prosecutor Sharon Masedi said she intended to appeal the sentence.

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