The Khayelitsha Priority Crimes Court has sentenced police murderer, Denzil October, to an effective 30-year imprisonment after he fatally shot on-duty police officer, Constable Ashwin Pedro, while he and his colleague were patrolling the Grassy Park area.

October entered a plea and sentencing agreement with the state and was convicted on charges of robbery, murder of a police officer, attempted murder of a police officer, illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. He was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for robbery, 30 years imprisonment for the murder of Constable Pedro, 5 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of Constable Theodore Henry, 15 years imprisonment for illegal possession of a firearm and two years imprisonment for illegal possession of ammunition.

This brought his total sentence to 60 years imprisonment, but the court ordered all the sentences to run concurrently with the sentence imposed for the murder charge. The court declared him unfit to possess a firearm.

The conviction and sentence follow an incident on 01 December 2022, when a member of the public approached the two police who were driving back to the police station following patrols around the Grassy Park area. The members of the public informed them that a man with blonde hair in an orange t-shirt and blue pants was carrying a firearm. They spotted the accused walking on Blackbird Avenue, Parkwood, Grassy Park and drove towards him. Constable Pedro approached the accused and ordered him to raise his hands, but October took out from his back what appeared to be a firearm.

Constable Henry who had joined his colleague, grabbed the accused’s right hand and attempted to restrain him but he resisted and grabbed Constable Henry’s firearm with such force that it detached from its safety retention cord. After ripping off the firearm from Constable Henry’s holster, the accused started to run away with the two officers in hot pursuit. He started shooting at them fatally wounding Constable Pedro. He was later arrested at his home in Ravensmead, where police recovered Constable Henry’s firearm with an empty magazine in a wendy house at the back of the main house. The 44-year-old father of three, is no stranger to the courts, as he has previous convictions for robbery, assault common, housebreaking with intent to assault, attempted murder and illegal possession of a firearm, on three occasions.

Addressing the court, Adv Luzaan Williams, said the phenomenon of attacks on law enforcement officials was egregious and had become particularly prevalent in the Western Cape and the country. She added that the robbery and murder were committed while the two police officers were on duty busy with crime prevention patrols and that the death of Constable Pedro has had a devastating impact on his family and colleague. The State deviated from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment for an accused who murdered a law enforcement officer who was performing his duty because the form of intention was dolus eventualis and not dolus directus.

Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Nicolette Bell, welcomed the sentence and saluted Constable Pedro who like a real soldier died with his boots on fighting for the safety of the community he was serving and the proliferation of firearms within our communities which has led to many deaths and injuries.

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