Life sentence for taxi operator who shot policeman in Eastern Cape

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The Eastern Cape high court in Mthatha has sentenced a man who shot a policeman on the main road in KwaBhaca in 2018 to life in prison. Stock image.
The Eastern Cape high court in Mthatha has sentenced a man who shot a policeman on the main road in KwaBhaca in 2018 to life in prison. Stock image.

The high court in Mthatha has sentenced Odwa Sqandulo Songca to life imprisonment for the brazen murder of a policeman in KwaBhaca (formerly Mount Frere) in April 2018.

Sgt Phumzile Michael Ntando was shot multiple times in the upper body after he parked his vehicle on a busy street at about midnight on April 7.

Songca, 27, was sitting in another vehicle parked behind Ntando, and on seeing him arrive, said, "Here is the dog," referring to the officer.

Before the murder, Songca, who operated a taxi, had complained to his friends and witnesses that Ntando and one of his colleagues were giving him a hard time over his criminal activities and that he would kill them.

Songca pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Evidence was led that before Ntando was murdered, he had been investigating some of the cases for which the accused had been arrested.

Ntando was going to testify in those cases against the accused.

The first case was in respect of suspected stolen property — a motor vehicle engine. The second case was in respect of vehicle hijacking.

A traditional healer testified that Songca arrived at his home after the murder and told him that he had killed Ntando with a firearm. The healer then called the police.  

In sentencing Ntando to life imprisonment, judge Mbulelo Jolwana said the brazenness of the murder of the police officer in the middle of town was shocking.

“It is common cause that there were many other vehicles there where the deceased arrived and parked his vehicle. The deceased must have assumed that he was safe there precisely because of the other vehicles that were there,” Jolwana said in his judgment last Friday.   

In aggravation of sentence, the state called Ntando's wife, who testified that she and her husband have two minor children, and his mother, 88, has been badly affected by the killing of her son.

Jolwana said it was heart-rending to hear that in addition to the loss of a loved one, the widow and her children, more than three years later, have allegedly not been given any form of financial support by the police service, in line with its policies and regulations.

Ntando's wife said the family had not been provided with counselling.

“This must mean that nobody really knows the true impact of the trauma of the death of their father on the two minor children,” Jolwana said


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