State wants life terms for Cape gang members

2015-06-17 17:37
The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

The Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town- Four Worcester gang members should be sentenced to life in jail for the premeditated “cold-blooded” killing of two men last year, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

“Did they show mercy for the deceased? There was no mercy, no mercy whatsoever,” prosecutor Erna Erasmus told the court, after the lawyer for the four men pleaded for mercy.

She refuted lawyer Johan van Aswegen’s argument that his clients were forced to join a gang in order to survive, saying no evidence had been produced.

One of the members had even said he had been lured into gangsterism by parties and drugs, she said.

Isadore Links, Henwill Wolhuter, Clayton Swartz (the leader) and Jerome Bosman belonged to the Young Red Criminals gang in Worcester. The men, aged between 24 and 26, were marked with "YRC" tattoos.

They were recently convicted of charges including murder, dealing in methamphetamine (tik) and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.

Mitchell Lakay was shot dead along the R43 road between Worcester and Villiersdorp, in January 2014. They also killed Deswill Coetzee, by shooting and stoning him. The gang members have been in custody since February 2014.

'Everyone is hurting'

The victims’ aunts, both petite and frail-looking, took the stand in aggravation of sentence.

Rachel Lakay said her nephew was 23 when he was killed. 

“His mother, Francis, is also here today [Wednesday]. She can’t testify because this case made her very sick,” she said in a soft voice.

“The family is very heartbroken. Everyone is hurting.” She said she had forgiven the gangsters because hating them would not bring the dead back to life.

Coetzee’s aunt Enith said they were very heartbroken and shocked by the killing. She had nonetheless forgiven them.

“If I don’t forgive them, God won’t forgive them.”

Worcester CPF head Sebastian Adams testified that residents had lived in fear and isolation because of gangsters. Since the police had arrested certain gang leaders, there was more freedom to move between areas and fewer robberies.

The State believed all four gang members were equally to blame for the crimes.

“This court has a duty to send out the message to this community that the court and justice system will not tolerate these kinds of behaviours by gangs,” Erasmus said.

The men would be sentenced on Thursday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  gangs  |  crime

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