High court frees Cape Town law enforcement officer convicted for killing undercover cop and drug dealer
A City of Cape Town Law Enforcement officer succeeded in getting a double murder verdict involving an undercover police officer and a drug dealer overturned.
A City of Cape Town law enforcement officer who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a snap decision he made while his life was seemingly under threat is now a free man.
Morné Horn was acquitted of two murder convictions on Tuesday. He had been found guilty in connection with the fatal shooting of undercover cop Thando Sigcu and a suspected drug dealer Ndimphiwe Given Mtshawe, known by his street name ‘Bongani Jack’.
Judge Matthew Francis convicted Horn of two counts of murder on 18 November 2021. He was granted leave to appeal to a full bench of the Western Cape high court, by the Supreme Court of Appeal, so his bail was extended.
Sigcu was stationed at the City of Cape Town’s central police station and, at the time was trying to arrest Jack in the city centre, for allegedly dealing in drugs.
It was a covert operation and Sigcu was wearing plain clothes.
Horn and his partner Lubabalo Blom intervened in what Horn described in court (he thought) as an assault on Jack. Sigcu was ordered to put down his firearm but did not follow the instructions and shots were fired. Horn argued that he feared for his life and acted in self-defence.
Judge Francis ruled that there was no evidence that Sigcu was armed and dismissed Horn’s argument that he acted in self-defence.
Horn was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murdering Sigcu and seven years for murdering Jack, with the sentences running concurrently.
Police Minister Bheki Cele and Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith were often involved in public spats following the incident. Cele questioned the training law enforcement officers received and their accountability. Smith, on the other hand, defended his officers and argued that they received adequate training similar to SAPS.
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The City supported Horn in challenging his conviction on the basis that the court that had convicted him, erred in not accepting his evidence as reasonably possibly true.
A full bench of Judges Andre le Grange, Judith Cloete and Kate Savage probed video footage, witness testimonies and radio recordings. The witnesses included a homeless couple and a bystander.
The court found that the evidence given by the couple was contradictory as they claimed the officers came as Sigcu with guns blazing and no warning.
The audio recording of Blom’s communications showed that a warning was given to Sigcu and he was asked to put his firearm down.
NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said they are studying the judgment with a view to taking a decision on whether to appeal or not.
Smith welcomed the judgment and said attacks on police officers and officers of the various Law Enforcement agencies of the City of Cape Town are increasing, both in South Africa and in Cape Town.
“While it is regrettable that there was condemnation of Officer Horn by political office bearers and some NGOs which fuelled a trial-by-media at the time of the incident, the City maintained that the South African Police Service should be allowed the space to investigate the matter freely and without bias or interference.”
He said Cele had already pronounced on the case before it was concluded.
The City has begun the rollout of equipping its law enforcement officers with body-worn cameras and in-vehicle dashboard-mounted cameras. Smith said the purpose of the body-worn cameras will greatly enhance situational awareness and the quality of evidence gathering.
The family of Sigcu was not reachable for comment. They have always believed that the sentencing Horn initially received was lenient. DM