A police colonel on Monday asked a judge at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to make an example of a policeman’s killer, saying the victim had paid with his life to maintain law and order.
Colonel Johan Kemp testified that more than 1 800 police officers had been attacked and 320 of them killed in South Africa between 2006 and 2009, with 379 of the attacks and 97 of the murders in Gauteng.
He said the public outcry against violent crime became even louder when a member of the police was shot dead while rendering a service to the community.
“Captain Charl Scheepers paid the highest price a police officer can pay. The price he paid to maintain law and order in our society was his life,” Kemp said.
“He was a husband and a father of three children. The loved ones he left behind have been paying an even higher price since his death and will pay that price for the rest of their lives.”
Kemp said Scheepers, who worked at the Brooklyn police station and spoke Zulu fluently, was well known in the community and was respected by his colleagues, many of whom regarded him as role model.
Kemp said it had been difficult to investigate the case and attend the post-mortem examination of a colleague.
Scheepers’s young colleagues, who were with him that day, had also been severely traumatised by his death.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius on Monday convicted Takalane Bennet Mungoni (41), a former supervisor at a security company, on 10 charges including Scheepers’s murder.
Scheepers was shot twice in the stomach while investigating a robbery at a building site in Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria, in October 2009.
Although the policeman had his firearm in his hand, it was not cocked and he did not fire any shots.
Mungoni opened fire after being warned to drop his weapon.
He was arrested near the scene shortly afterwards when he told a policeman that the blood on his shirt was “from helping the policeman who had been shot”.
Mungoni was also found guilty of kidnapping, pointing a firearm at and robbing a security guard of his cellphone and wallet, and of breaking into five offices and stealing clothing and computer equipment.
Call for life imprisonment
In a trial-within-a-trial, Mungoni claimed that he was tortured and repeatedly assaulted by the police, who forced him to point out the scene of the crime.
Pretorius rejected this, saying photos of Mungoni showed no visible injuries, except two scratch marks, which he had told a district surgeon were not the result of an assault.
As Mungoni refused to testify in his defence, Pretorius accepted the state evidence as proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecution argued that Mungoni should be sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, the defence submitted that he had probably shot the policeman “out of fright”, that he was a first offender and that he supported his wife, three children and parents.
Mungoni will be sentenced on Tuesday. — Sapa