The 43-year-old singer was gunned down in his car in front of his children in suburban Johannesburg. "The accused showed no mercy for the deceased," Judge Seun Moshidi said. "It is difficult for the court to extend any mercy today."
Sifiso Mhlanga, Mbuti Mabe and Julius Gxowa were convicted earlier this week for killing the singer. Hours before the verdict was announced, Mabe and Mhlanga assaulted police officers in a foiled bid to escape from the court.
Thokozani Dube, who was in the car when his father was shot, broke into tears as the sentences were announced and was comforted by his mother. "I'm satisfied... I have closure," he later said outside the court. Lucky Dube, who launched his career in the 1980s with criticism of the apartheid regime, went on to become an international star, recording more than 20 albums and sharing the stage with the likes of Michael Jackson, Peter Gabriel and Sting.
Thuthukani Cele, a keyboardist who worked with Lucky Dube for 24 years, said: "I'm happy with the ruling even though it will never bring him back." He vowed to keep Dube's spirit alive, saying: "We owe it to Lucky and the world... We just wanted to finish this before we open a new chapter."