Cape Town – A self-confessed cop killer was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Khayelitsha Priority Crimes Court on Friday.
The heartbroken parents of slain Constable Ashwin Pedro say they are relieved the harrowing court appearances are over as they came face-to-face with the gunman accused of killing their son in cold blood while executing his duties.
The young crime-fighter from Lavender Hill died after he was shot on December 1, 2022 in a struggle with gun-slinging gangster in Blackbird Avenue.
Soon after the incident videos showing Ashwin’s body went viral on chat groups as cops swarmed Parkwood on the hunt for the gunman.
Cops later arrested Denzil “Trompie” October and found him in possession of the murder weapon while hiding in Ravensmead.
After several appearances at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court the case
was moved to the Khayelitsha Priority Crimes Court for trial where October told the court he planned to enter into a plea deal.
October, who faced an array of charges including murder, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, angered Ashwin’s colleagues when he revealed he would plead guilty if the court gave him a sentence of 20 years.
Speaking to the Weekend Argus, his father Melvin, 50, says he remembers taking his son to the Cape Town CBD as he made his application to become a police officer nearly eight years ago.
He says at just 19 years old, Ashwin knew he wanted to be a police officer and was passionate about fighting crime and making a difference.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila, says October received a combined sentence of 60 years for all his crimes.
“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 eight years’ imprisonment for robbery, 30 years’ imprisonment for the murder of Constable Pedro, five 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, and he was declared him unfit to possess a firearm.
Addressing the court, advocate 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 Pedro has had a devastating impact on his family and colleague. Melvin says the family are relieved.
“We are happy and relieved that he pleaded guilty and we did not have to go through the heartbreak of a trial. I watched him in court and he appeared remorseful as he spoke about being a father and I hope his time in prison will give him a chance to think about his crimes and how would he feel if his child had been taken away like that.”
He says it has been a difficult journey for the family as Ashwin’s presence in the family home is sorely missed.
Melvin told the Weekend Argus last year that he was haunted by the memory of seeing his child’s body in the dirt.
“How do you kill a person who is there to protect you and leave him to die in the dirt? My son risked his life every day to protect those people who have no respect for the law.
“In my days you would never even think of being rude to a police officer. Now they just kill the police and it shows you they don’t care and are not scared.”
Last year his colleagues hosted a memorial service at the murder scene where they hired an artist to paint a memorial wall in his honour.
The ceremony was arranged by Captain Wynita Kleinsmith and attended by Ashwin’s mother, Lynette, who visited the crime scene for the first time since her son’s death.
Kleinsmith says the dreary wall was a stark reminder for many fellow officers who pass by each day on duty and the aim was to create a mural to commemorate Ashwin’s dedication to fighting crime.