Five truck hijacking syndicate members were sentenced to a total of 463 years imprisonment.They were sentenced by the Harrismith High Court on Friday, 23 March.The accused are Fernando Filepe (44), Eric Masuku (30), Albert Nyoni (38), Master Mashaba (38) and Thabane Zondo (40). They were found guilty on charges of truck hijacking, kidnapping and organised gang related crime according to the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca).The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in the Free State has welcomed the hefty sentencing by the Harrismith High Court. Capt. S’fiso Nyakane, the Hawks provincial spokesperson, said the truck hijacking syndicate operated between South Africa and Mozambique. He said the men remained in custody since their arrest in 2015 until their conviction and sentencing. “The group was arrested in the Free State and Gauteng by the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit during project driven investigations in October 2015. “The investigations were initiated following incidents of truck hijackings on the highways in the Eastern Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga,” Nyakane said. He said intensive investigations implicated the five syndicate members in about 12 armed hijackings incidents from 2012 to 2015. “Trucks were robbed of cargo valued at approximately R8,5 million. “The suspects threatened the truck drivers with firearms and forced the drivers to accompany them to isolated areas to drop off cargoes.“Five of the hijacked trucks were recovered in Mpumalanga and one in Swaziland,” said Nyakane. Filepe received 125 years imprisonment for six counts of truck hijacking, six counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related crime according to Poca. Masuku was sentenced to 54 years imprisonment for two counts of truck hijacking, three counts of kidnapping, one count of gang related crime according to Poca, and the possession of unlawful firearms and ammunition. Nyakane said Masuku will serve 25 years direct imprisonment.Mashaba was sentenced to 145 years imprisonment for seven counts of truck hijacking, seven counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related crime according to Poca. He will serve 31 years direct imprisonment.Zondo got 95 years imprisonment for five counts of truck hijacking, six counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related crime according to Poca. He will serve 25 years direct imprisonment.Nyoni got a lesser sentence of 44 years imprisonment for two counts of truck hijacking, three counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related crime according to Poca. He will serve 21 years direct imprisonment.