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39 life terms plus 918 years behind bars for gang who terrorised Soweto

Nine men, all foreign nationals, were sentenced on Wednesday to life behind bars for a crime spree in Soweto in 2015 and 2016.
Nine men, all foreign nationals, were sentenced on Wednesday to life behind bars for a crime spree in Soweto in 2015 and 2016.
Image: Allan Swart/123RF

Nine men who terrorised residents of Tshepisong, Soweto, for two years were on Wednesday sentenced by the high court in Johannesburg to spend the rest of their lives behind bars. 

Thomas Tivane, Makamu Mapeddje, Alex Mabuya, Boavida Chilengue, Gito Maguele, Jordan Bila, Antonio Timbe, George Mabunda and Jeremias Sithole were convicted of 53 counts. 

Their crimes included gang rapes, kidnappings, murder, inciting or abetting another to commit rape, and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The men were sentenced to a total of 39 life terms, plus a further 918 years' imprisonment, said police spokesperson Brig Mathapelo Peters.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said it was satisfied with the sentence.

“The accused terrorised residents of Tshepisong by wielding pangas, knives, knobkerries and what resembled firearms to kidnap, rob and rape unsuspecting women. These heinous crimes resulted in the loss of Mathapelo Baloyi’s life ... after being raped and stoned by three of the assailants," said NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwana.

The men were arrested after police acted on information provided by an informer. “They were later pointed out by complainants at an identification parade and were further linked to these offences through DNA samples,” said Mjonondwana.  

State advocate Lwazi Ngodwana argued that the sentence imposed by the court should be proportionate to the seriousness of the offences.

The court found that all of the accused lacked mercy during the commission of the crimes and had shown no remorse for the pain and suffering inflicted on their victims.

Det-Capt Thomas Bvuma of the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit in Krugersdorp located 13 victims from nine cases and with crime intelligence identified possible suspects.

Bvuma, in a statement issued by police on Wednesday, said it was a challenging to link the suspects, who were all undocumented foreign nationals.

"Cooperation by the victims, whom I now see as brave survivors, as well as efficient forensic technologies of the Saps, made this complex investigation seem easy," he said.

"I would also not have made it without the support and guidance of my colleagues and commanders, as well as the community who boosted the survivors with moral support."