Two men who conducted a reign of terror in Mhluzi, Mpumalanga, two years ago, were yesterday found guilty by the Middelburg circuit court on 21 charges that included murder, rape and robbery with aggravated circumstances.
Johannes van Rooyen, 27, and Dumisani Makhubela, 28, of Kwaguqa in Witbank and Mhluzi in Middelburg respectively, were convicted by Judge Aubrey Ledwaba who acquitted them on two counts of raping a minor and possession of ammunition.
They had pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The judge yesterday said the crimes committed by the two men, including seven murders and seven rapes, were gruesome.
"The crimes were committed by people who seem to have been possessed and without conscience", said Ledwaba.
The most horrifying crimes were the killing of a couple and their two daughters in their house. The bodies of Lassie Motebu and his wife were found hanging from the rafters of their house with both their hands and feet bound with wire. Their two daughters also had their hands and feet bound before being killed. The only surviving member of the family was a two-year-old boy who was sleeping at the time of the attack.
Both men had refused to take the witness stand after the State had closed its case. The judge yesterday said he believed that the State had proved its case without doubt though he disagreed with the prosecution team on the two charges in which he had acquitted both men.
The trial was postponed to next Thursday for the defence to lead evidence in mitigation.