The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Hawks have welcomed the hefty sentences handed to three men for their role in the murder of a police officer and a businessman in Palm Ridge east of Johannesburg.

The three men were sentenced to six life sentences and an additional 604 years imprisonment in the South Gauteng for murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, the possession of unlicenced firearms and defeating the ends of justice.

In August 2016, the three men Halalisani Gumede, Lungisani Gamelihle Madlala and Ntuthuko Mseleku robbed a business establishment in Palm Ridge and shot dead the owner, Ephraim Mdaka.

They then killed an off-duty police officer in Zonkizizwe, Sabelo Ngwenya.

Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, General Godfrey Lebeya, says while the crimes and the loss of lives cannot be reversed the sentences demonstrate that justice is being done.

Police Minister Bheki Cele welcomed the multiple long-term sentences saying an attack on the police is an attack on the state.