The Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court has sentenced two police officers who were found guilty for the murder of Innocent Sebediela – a suspect who had been accused of stealing his brother-in-law’s TV set and later killed in police custody – to 28 years behind bars.

The sentence was handed down on Wednesday at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court after Derrick Johnson and Abraham Dintwe, both formerly of the Ennerdale Police Station, were convicted of murder and torture at the same court earlier this month.

Johnson and Dintwe, with inmates, had assaulted and tortured Sebediela in police cells, leading to his death.

They were arrested by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) in June 2018 after Sebediela was killed in police custody.

IPID spokesperson Ndileka Cola on Wednesday said the court had declared them unfit to handle firearms and had sentenced them to 18 years for murder and an additional 10 years each for torture.

The sentence will not run concurrently, meaning the pair of them are to serve 28 years behind bars.

Police had arrested Sebediela, who was 43, after he was suspected of stealing his brother-in-law’s TV set in 2018.

He was later killed in police cells, after being assaulted and strangled.

Ipid spokesperson Ndileka Cola said their investigations found the deceased had been assaulted by the police officers together with other inmates.

IPID investigations found the inmates who had been part of the deceased’s assault were not registered in the custody register.

Cola said “IPID welcomes sentencing of the pair and hopes that today’s outcome will send a strong message to all police officers that they are not above the law, they have a responsibility to respect the laws of the land as they discharge their constitutional duties”.