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Murder by numbers — police killings in sharp focus as Hawks break down their crime-busting successes

Murder by numbers — police killings in sharp focus as Hawks break down their crime-busting successes
Hawks head, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, presents the agency's latest milestones in Hatfield, Pretoria, on on 23 November 2023. (Photo: GCIS)

‘Attacks on police officials are an attack on the state, and the death of one police official is one too many,’ Hawks national head, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, warned as he listed the Hawks’ latest milestones.

A total of 37 suspects have been arrested by the Hawks for the murder of police officials, with 10 being convicted and sentenced. Of those, five were jailed for a combined 391 years.

These are among the milestones announced by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) during the second quarter of the 2023/24 financial year.  

Police killings were one of the main issues that Hawks national head, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, highlighted while updating the media on the agency’s successes in Pretoria on Thursday, 23 November.

In his sixth public update, he said the agency had arrested at least 801 suspects across the country – 244 were convicted and sentenced, of whom 234 were natural persons and 10 were entities. 

The Hawks’ primary function is combating, investigating and preventing national priority crimes such as serious organised crime, commercial crime and corruption.

Fraud was among the top five priority offences that contributed to the high number of arrests. The Hawks made 173 arrests for fraud, of which 75 suspects were convicted and sentenced during the quarter. These comprised 62 South Africans, six foreigners and seven companies. 

Among the 10 suspects convicted of murdering police officials, five were sentenced to 10 life terms, for a combined 391 years.

Lebeya said “attacks on police officials are an attack on the state, and the death of one police official, is one too many”.  

In the last quarter, which Daily Maverick reported on, the Hawks arrested 13 suspects for the murder of police officials, six of whom were convicted and sentenced. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Hawks flight success story of multiple arrests for police killings, 280 convictions for serious crimes

One of the six murdered officials was tortured, beaten up and doused with boiling water. 

According to Lebeya’s report in the last quarter, the Hawks arrested 701 suspects who appeared in courts across the country. During this period – 1 January 2023 to 31 March 2023 – 284 were convicted and sentenced. 

They also arrested 38 suspects for cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies and four were convicted and sentenced. In addition, 30 arrests were made for CIT-related offences.

The police killings and convictions included:

  • Warrant Officer Phiwayinkosi Magwaza (59) stationed at SAPS Melmoth was at his home in KwaMagwaza Reserve, Melmoth, when unknown gunmen shot and killed him and took his service firearm. At the time of his death, authorities were looking for Senelisiwe Cebisile (27), the wife of the deceased, and Bafana Biyela (42), a hitman who was later arrested in KwaMashu hostel where he was found in possession of the deceased Magwaza’s service pistol;
  • Sergeant Lasi Max Siweya, who was following a murder case, was killed at Muzikinya hostel in Reiger Park, Boksburg. Molefe Rapooie (27), a Mosotho, was later sentenced to life in prison;
  • Sergeant Nametso Ignatius Molema was shot and killed at Killarney Gardens. On 29 August 2023, the Western Cape High Court convicted Luyanda Fuzile (38) of the murder and sentenced him to 67 years behind bars. Gcinikhaya Mbukula, Vusumzi Nyanda and Baxolele Matolo, who are still in custody, will appear on 9 February 2024 for trial; and
  • On Sunday, 8 August 2019, three members of SAPS Mfuleni visited the Sharp Shooters tavern at Diepwater, Cape Town, looking for Shane Cecil Swartz (25), a double murder and hijacking suspect. As they walked through the premises, shots were fired through the toilet door and Warrant Officer Joseph was shot in the head. One of his colleagues sustained gunshot wounds to the face and neck. On 9 August 2019, Swartz was apprehended in Mfuleni and later found guilty and sentenced to life plus 42 years in prison.

 Other busts 

In other, successes, Lebeya highlighted the conviction of former Eskom senior buyer Thandeka Innocentia Nkosi (42) for defrauding the power utility of R1.4-million, and the arrest of Nana Perseverance Magubane (43) in Durban after discrepancies were discovered by the South African Revenue Service (SARS). 

In March 2020, Mugbane’s company submitted fraudulent  invoices to SARS which resulted in an actual loss of R3,723,520. She was charged with six counts of fraud. She pleaded guilty and was convicted by the Durban Magistrates’ Court. On 17 July 2023, she was sentenced to a R300,000 fine, to be paid in instalments, and four years’ imprisonment, which was suspended. DM

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