Critics should take note of our hard work, says judge

Critics of the judiciary should take note of the hard work being done in the country’s courts, a high court judge said on Wednesday.

Judge Faan Hancke thanked lawyers, prosecutors and investigators for their hard work in the lengthy trial of a hijacking syndicate in the circuit court in Kroonstad.

Hancke was speaking on Wednesday during the sentencing of six convicted hijackers.

Zakhele Nkosi and Richard Maseko were each handed a double life sentence as well as 220 years imprisonment. Both were convicted for the killing of two truck drivers, 14 counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and contravening the Organised Crime Act.

Albert Mudau was sentenced to an effective 25 years in prison, Mavis Mbokozi to an effective 30 years, Bongani Yaka to 10 years, and Jabu Dhlamini to an effective 20 years.

The six, all from the East Rand, were convicted last week for 22 truck hijackings.

Hancke said 88 witnesses testified in the trial, compiling more than 2000 pages of testimony. The court sat an average of 4,9 hours per day — an achievement

if taking into account that the seven accused were represented by seven different lawyers.

Prosecutor advocate Colin Steyn said in his final argument on Wednesday that the six had to some extent sabotaged the national economy, because they targeted the N1 and N3 highways, which were the country’s economic arteries.

”All the energy of committed and productive, law-abiding citizens to advance the image and economy of the New South Africa was nullified by their actions,” Steyn argued.

”They were driven by naked greed with strong undertones of racism.”

Steyn said the negative effect of hijackings on local and foreign investor support could not be overemphasised. Long prison sentences would send a strong message to other members of the syndicate and other syndicates that they would be hunted and punished.

The six furthermore showed a total disregard for State authority, Steyn said, referring to evidence concerning their threats to court officials. The threats had forced Steyn’s colleague in the case, advocate Orpa Wessels, to vacate her home twice during the trial.

The trial, which started in mid-February, was the longest running in Free State high court history. The six men and two women were initially charged. – Sapa

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