ALLEGED Dust Lives gang member Gavin Minnie was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder and robbery of Nelson Mandela Bay traffic officer Neal Domingo.
Police believe at least one of the alleged gang members who religiously attended the trial was the driver of the getaway vehicle.
They are also still searching for the alleged gunman.
Domingo was shot dead in Gelvandale three years ago. Even though Minnie was identified as a gang member by state witnesses, he insisted he only "chose to hang out with them”.
Judge Nomathamsanqa Beshe said on Friday one of the factors that had saved Minnie from a life sentence was that he did not fire the fatal shot.
The court found Minnie and an unknown man had attacked Domingo in his official vehicle in front of his daughter Elaine Seafield’s house, shooting him in the head and robbing him of his service pistol. "We will remain hopeful that the police will arrest the man who pulled the trigger,” Domingo’s widow, Lucilla Domingo, said at court on Friday.
She said she was very satisfied with Minnie’s sentence.
Minnie, the one person who could identify the shooter, stayed silent on Friday except to, once again, protest his innocence.
Minnie’s list of previous convictions include indecent assault, attempted rape and attempted murder.
Three other members of the Dust Lives gang were arrested for the incident. One could not be identified by the only eye witness – a man who, for his own protection, can only be identified as Bogart. The other two were released as they could only be linked to threats made to Bogart. A rugged little group of alleged Dust Lives gang members, led by Chris Cesar, attended Minnie’s trial religiously – but were conspicuously absent on Friday.
In giving her reasons for sentencing, Beshe also turned her attention to Minnie’s plea that she consider his tough upbringing in the notorious area of Helenvale as mitigating.
"I do not believe this justifies that people should go around committing offences and add to the misery of the people in their community by making it a dangerous place,” she said. "Many other people are motivated to work hard to improve themselves and for a better life for their children. I do not understand how committing crimes would improve their situation.”
Beshe pointed out the number of suspended sentences given to Minnie had not had the desired effect of discouraging him.
"On the other hand, Domingo was gainfully employed as a law enforcement officer and had a family. I have no doubt that he loved them and they loved him. He had a number of colleagues who showed a great interest in this case,” she said.
"He had hopes and aspirations for the future. All that was brought to an end. I further have no doubt that members of the community are watching with keen interest to see if the law will protect them from people of Minnie’s calibre.”
He was sentenced to 52 years in prison, of which he would have to serve 40. He will also have to first complete his current sentence.
After the sentencing, Domingo’s colleagues parked their official vehicles at the exit of the court where the correctional services van would leave the court, blue lights flashing in a quiet reminder of what Minnie had done and whom he had taken away.