FORMER Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans was jailed for 20 years on Tuesday for the murder of whistle-blower councillor Moss Phakoe, while his former bodyguard Enoch Matshaba was sentenced to life in prison.

Phakoe was shot dead at his home in Rustenburg in March 2009, after he had handed a dossier detailing corruption in the municipality to high-ranking African National Congress officials, including secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma, and to former co-operative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka, in the presence of Wolmarans.

Handing down sentence in the Rustenburg High Court on Tuesday, Judge Ronnie Hendricks said the two men had not shown remorse.

He said Wolmarans had masterminded the murder. "The deceased was your rival. He challenged you on things he did not like. He accused you of corruption and that angered you."

Because Wolmarans saw Phakoe as an opponent, he plotted to kill him, the judge said. "You employed the service of accused one (Matshaba) to eliminate the deceased. You were clever enough not to do the killing yourself."

Judge Hendricks added that political tolerance was needed in a democratic country.

Matshaba was arrested on August 4 2011 after witness Freddy Mashele told the police in Bela Bela that he saw Matshaba holding a gun at Phakoe's home just after he had heard two gunshots.

Mashele testified that he had gone to Phakoe's home to collect his girlfriend's pictures from a photographer who rented a back room at Phakoe's home. When he saw Matshaba with a gun, he forget about the photos and went to Brits, where he informed his friend about the incident. He then returned home to Giyani, Limpopo, and two years later went to the Bela Bela police.

Wolmarans was arrested on September 24 2011 together with Amos Mataboge and Oupa Mphomane, but charges against the latter two were dropped.

Outside the court on Tuesday, police stopped supporters of Wolmarans when they ran towards the municipal offices after hearing the sentence. They had emptied dustbins on to the streets.

Phakoe's supporters, dressed in red T-shirts, celebrated the sentencing by singing liberation songs outside the court.