All three of them were found guilty of premeditated murder and the hitmen were additionally found guilty of possessing an unlicensed firearm and unlicensed ammunition.
Judge Elize Steyn had earlier this year found Tamara Mapeyi, 54, Thanda Krwece, 22, and Lukhanyo Dibekile, 23, guilty of masterminding the death of Zwelomthetho Msuthwana who was shot dead metres from his front door after leaving for work on October 28, 2009.
His neighbour Kholeka Makhosi, with whom he had set out to work, escaped unharmed.
Makhosi, who was witness for the state, said he and Msuthwana had been on their way to work at 5.45am when they saw two men.
She and Msuthwana became suspicious when the men split up and one began walking behind them. Msuthwana was then killed with one shot to the head.
It was alleged by state prosecutor Esmeralda Cecil that three months prior to the shooting, Mapeyi had unsuccessful tried to poison her husband.
Cecil had called for each of the convicts to get a life sentence, as they had not shown any remorse for their actions and argued that a stiff sentence was necessary in order to send a strong message to would-be murderers that crime does not pay.
The family of the deceased said they were satisfied with the fact that the trio would serve an effective 20 years in prison each, even though it would not return Msuthwana to them.
In handing down sentence Steyn said she had decided to shift from the minimum sentence prescribed in the legislature because the convicts had circumstantial circumstances that allowed her to deviate from the prescribed legislature.
She said Mapeyi and Dibekile were first time offenders and in relation to a previous murder case where Krwece was found guilty in 2006, Steyn said the fact that Krwece was a juvenile at the time played in his favour.
Steyn said Krwece was young when the first crime – a murder in 2006 – was committed and she accepted that in this case Krwece was manipulated by Mapeyi.
For premeditated murder, all three were sentenced to 25 years in jail, with five years suspended.
Dibekile and Krwece received four-years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition in addition to two years for the theft of a firearm. However, all the sentences were to run concurrently.
Before the trio was led to the holding cells, Steyn told them: “I am giving you a second chance to rehabilitate and make something out of your lives.”
Nokuzola Ngono, 45, cousin to the deceased said “I am happy that justice has been served. We know Zwelomthetho (Msuthwana) is not coming back but the fact that finally the killers have been sentenced is sitting well with our hearts. We were expecting a life sentence for each but anyway, we are fine with that they got.”
Krwece’s grandmother Sylvia Krwece cried uncontrollably outside court after hearing the sentence and was too distraught to speak to the media. – Sandiso Phaliso