Murder Files: Four cops jailed for deathly police van ride

When a motorist refused to pay a bribe the police officers assaulted their murder victim and his brothers and put them in the back of a van.


Four policemen have been sentenced to 15 years in jail in the Gauteng High Court for the murder of Katlehong resident, Phikolomzi Tsatsi.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the police officers, Vusumuzi Mtshali, Simphiwe Lydia Kubheka, Themba Kunene and Khayelihle Gumede had been sentenced to 15 years each for the March 2019 murder. 

Mjonondwane said that the four SAPS officers had been collectively charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder, while Mtshali had faced an additional charge of corruption.

“On 09 March 2019, Msindisi Cici was transporting his brothers to their place of residence in Katlehong and Tatsi was a passenger in the vehicle. On arrival,  a marked SAPS vehicle stopped next to Cici’s vehicle. Two officers (Mtshali and Kubheka) were in the marked vehicle,” Mjonondwane  said.

“Mtshali requested to see Cici’s driver’s license. Both officers suspected that Cici was driving under the influence of alcohol. Thereafter, Mtshali demanded money from Cici in order to get his licence back. When he refused, they attempted to arrest him,” Mjonondwane said.

“When Cici refused to be handcuffed and demanded reasons for his arrest, the officers called for back-up. Cici was eventually placed in the police vehicle and was transported to Katlehong North Police Station. His brothers followed the police to the police station.”

Mjonondwane said that at the police station, Cici had been taken to the back of the charge office where he was assaulted by five officers. 

“Tatsi and Gcin’umuzi Sotondoshe were also brought in to join Cici. They continued to assault all three men and later loaded them into a police van and drove around Katlehong and Vosloorus with them, before taking them to hospital. Tatsi was declared dead inside the police van,” Mjonondwane said.

Tatsi’s wife testified about the effects of the murder, in aggravation of sentencing, saying that three of their children could not cope with the loss of their father who was the bread winner.

Senior State Advocate, David Mothibe argued that the officers had failed to uphold the rule of law, stating that they failed to take reasonable steps to preserve life even after severely assaulting the complainants, they failed to seek immediate help.  

They were sentenced to a further six years  for two counts of attempted murder and Mtshali received another four years for corruption, Mjonondwane said.

“The sentences were ordered to run concurrently with the murder sentence, resulting in an effective 15 years imprisonment term,” Mjonondwane added.