A man convicted of killing an Eastern Cape police officer whilst on duty in January 2015 was sentenced to life on Wednesday.

Mangaliso Grootboom (28) was handed the sentence by the Port Elizabeth High court for the murder of Constable Simthembile Thandani (31). Grootboom was also condemned to a further eight-years imprisonment for attempted robbery, four-years for unlawful possession of firearm and one-year for unlawful possession of ammunition.

On 7 January 2015, Thandani and a colleague stopped the vehicle in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth, whilst on duty. While they were busy talking to the driver of the vehicle, two men approached and a tussle ensued between the suspects and the members. During the struggle, Thandani was shot twice in the upper body by Grootboom with his unlicensed revolver.

Thandani returned fire and shot Grootboom also in the upper body however he managed to escape with his accomplice who is still at large. Unfortunately he succumbed to his wounds at the scene.

The Eastern Cape Organised Crime unit of the Hawks received information during the same evening that a man who fit Grootboom’s description was admitted at the Provincial Hospital in Uitenhage and was arrested and remained in custody until the finalisation of the case.

The Eastern Cape Provincial Head for the Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), Major-General Nyameko Nogwanya, congratulated the team for securing the sentence.

“It is the worst nightmare when one of ours is killed. We have vowed never to rest to arrest and successfully convict those who kill our police officers. You kill a police officer, you temper with the peace and stability of this country. This sentencing is highly appreciated and is set to send a clear message wherever you are, the claws of the Hawks will catch you,” he concluded.