Former police officer Lungisani Arnold Mgaga (30) was sentenced to six terms of life imprisonment and an additional 50 years in the Pietermaritzburg High Court last week for the murders and attempted murders he committed in Ladysmith in October 2014. This relates to faction fighting between two taxi groups in the area.
Now commonly known as the October 11 massacre, two shootings occurred on the same day in the Ezakheni area on October 11, 2014.
The first occurred on the Pieters road. Two Gauteng families were returning home after attending a wedding and their convoy was hit by a hail of bullets. One person was killed and four others injured.
A grey Toyota Verso stopped alongside the now stationary and bullet-riddled vehicles… Two gunmen emerged and pointed rifles at the injured. At this point, the driver of the Verso, who was still inside, shouted out, “It’s not them!” The gunmen got back into the Toyota and sped off.
Less than half an hour later, a group of people were relaxing at a roadside car wash in Ezakheni when a grey Toyota Verso appeared. It stopped a few metres away and two men got out.
They began shooting at the group, killing five people.
In court, Senior State Advocate Wendy Greeff led ballistic evidence linking the accused’s service pistol to the car wash shooting. He was further linked by a stolen police R5 rifle used in the shooting, which was found in his possession when he was arrested for another offence.
Advocate Greeff also led testimony of an eyewitness from the car wash shooting, who placed the accused at the scene.
The court sentenced Mgaga to six terms of life imprisonment for the murders and 50 years for the attempted murders. The sentences will run concurrently.
During sentencing, the presiding officer mentioned that the accused is extremely dangerous and should be jailed in a maximum-security prison. Furthermore, the record of this trial must be taken into consideration at any future parole hearing. The accused’s application for leave to appeal was refused.
His co-perpetrator, Themba Mvelase, was sentenced to six life sentences and a further 10 years in February 2017.
The Director of Public Prosecutions in KZN, Adv Moipone Noko, said, “I hope this hefty sentence impacts positively on faction fighting and taxi violence cases in the province. It is pleasing to note the seriousness with which the court views this heinous crime. Congratulations to the NPA officials involved in the successful prosecution of this matter.”