Fri, 10 Apr 2020

A South African Defence Force (SANDF) soldier who went AWOL to hunt down his girlfriend, killing one person and wounding several others with his state-issued R4 rifle during the pursuit, was sentenced to an effective 170 years in prison in the High Court in Durban on Friday.

Thembinkosi American Ngcobo, now a former soldier, committed a spate of crimes on January 31, 2017, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara said.

Ngcobo was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 120 years for 12 counts of attempted murder, 15 years for kidnapping, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, 15 years for the unlawful possession of a fully automatic firearm and five years for the unlawful possession of ammunition.

He held a military post in Upington and was in a relationship with Ntokozo Mbambo, who lived in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal.

"He suspected her of being unfaithful to him and thus abandoned his post and travelled to KwaZulu Natal, armed with a state-issued R4 rifle."

Ngcobo travelled to Mbambo's home but did not find her. Kara said that while he was there, he found her sister and another relative.

"He opened fire on them, killing the sister and wounding the relative. Realising that Ntokozo was not there, he drove to her brother's house in Richmond farm. Her brother was standing on the road. Ngcobo threatened him with the firearm and took him inside the house in search of Ntokozo."

Ngcobo stole his cellphone before he fled.

"By this time, [police] learned about the shooting and were informed by the deceased's family that Ngcobo was driving a white car.

"They spotted him on the way and blockaded the road to stop him. Ngcobo opened fire on them, injuring several officers as well as civilians," said Kara.

He then fled and surrendered himself to police two days later, she added.

State Advocate Krishan Shah said witness testimony also implicated Ngcobo.

"One of the complainants, a SAPS official, told the court that he could not continue with work as the incident left him with flashbacks. Another complainant had to have two of his toes amputated due to the injuries caused in the incident."

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