Five men have been sentenced in the Gauteng High Court to a collective 150 years in jail in connection with the horror Golden Highway Shoprite robbery that left two shoppers dead and four injured.

The sentence was handed down on Friday after the men were found guilty of charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. The state had argued in aggravation of sentencing that the men had acted in common purpose and the actions of those who pulled the trigger should be attributed to all members of the gang.

The sentences imposed for the attempted murder counts and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition were ordered to run concurrently with the life sentences imposed for murder, which resulted in an effective sentence of double life and 15 years in jail for the robbers.

Mfuneleni Langa, 40, Simo Khanyile, 30, Nkosenhle Nxumalo, 20, Msawenkosi Sibiya, 29, and Thulani Sithole, 27, were convicted on 30 September 2021 for the armed robbery of staff and customers at  the Golden Highway Shoprite supermarket, near Lenasia on 19 June 2018.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said that the court had heard how on 19 June 2018, the suspects had entered the Golden Highway Shoprite supermarket and accosted employees and patrons. 

“They further demanded that the store manager should open the cash office, whilst some of them were on the floor robbing cash, airtime vouchers and other personal belongings from patrons and employees. One of the patrons resisted and wanted to leave the store when he was shot at and died at the scene,” Mjonondwane said.

“A second person, a security company owner, died in hospital as a result of the gunshot wounds sustained on arrival at the scene of crime after responding to a radio call alerting to the robbery in progress. Four more other patrons were shot at the parking lot as the accused were making their way out and were lucky to escape the ordeal, with gunshot wounds,” Mjonondwane said.

Senior State Advocate, Monde Mbaqa argued that the accused had acted in common purpose in committing the offences at Golden Highway Shoprite that day and therefore the actions of each of them should be attributed to all of them. He further argued that all of their victims had been killed in a senseless and ruthless manner, despite the fact that they were just shoppers who had no control of Shoprite’s finances. 

The judge remarked that it was the duty of the court to dispense a sentence that sends a message that courts frown upon senseless killing of people in such a violent manner. 

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