Terrible Josters trial has rare day of uninterrupted evidence with 20 alleged gangsters in court

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The State alleges that Elton 'Koffie' Lenting was the leader of a faction of the Terrible Josters gang and his second-in-command was Raymond 'Muis' Arendse.
The State alleges that Elton 'Koffie' Lenting was the leader of a faction of the Terrible Josters gang and his second-in-command was Raymond 'Muis' Arendse.
PHOTO: Jenni Evans, News24
  • It was a good day for the trial of the 20 alleged Terrible Josters gangsters on Wednesday, with no sudden headaches or security shortages stalling proceedings for a change. 
  • A Delft South police officer testified about an early interview with one of the accused after yet another dreaded shooting in the impoverished suburb. 
  • They have all pleaded not guilty to more than 100 charges, which include murder, attempted murder, arson and drug possession.

It was touch and go for the trial of the 20 alleged Terrible Josters gangsters in Cape Town on Wednesday, but it went ahead, for a change, despite one headache: an alarming cough, and a lawyer slightly shaken by a morning rush hour car accident. 

It was day 190 in a trial that has dragged on in its search for answers in at least 10 murders in Delft South by a group of alleged gangsters accused of fiercely guarding a drugs enterprise that specialised in mandrax, tik and weed.

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Many of the delays have been due to a shortage of specialised security, one of the accused feeling unwell, or a lawyer unable to attend.

But, after a morning of the laborious cross-examination of a police officer who took the early statements of accused number 20, Judge James Lekhuleni had to give the accused a wake-up call as they nodded off in the dock. 

"Are you sleeping?" he asked. 

They jerked their heads up - except for one, still deep in slumber, as his co-accused watched him with amusement. 

"Do you need a body break?" Lekhuleni asked them. They did. 

READ | 'Caught, beaten and set alight': Police condemn vigilantism after 5 people burnt to death in Delft

As they filed downstairs to the holding cells of the Western Cape High Court to stretch their legs, cuffed two by two, one leaned over the bar and exclaimed, "I woke up at 4am for this!"

When they returned, Lekhuleni asked if they were refreshed, which the interpreter translated as: "Die hof vra of julle is op en wakker soos spinnerakke? (Are you up and awake like a spider's web?)"

Sergeant Rodney Andrew testified about his early interview with accused number 20 and the doubts over whether he was a minor at the time of a shooting in Delft South in 2015. He faces five charges of attempted murder, relating to the shooting and an arson attack on a house in November 2016. 

ALSO READ | Five people believed to be leaders of vigilante group arrested after bodies found in shallow graves

The 20 men face a laundry list of serious charges, ranging from murder to attempted murder, illegal possession of drugs, dealing in drugs, and illegal possession of guns and ammunition.

Andrew testified that at the time of his arrest, accused number 20 told him he was 21 years old and unemployed, but then during his bail hearing, the accused denied this, saying that he was actually a minor and his alibi was that he was in school at the time of the shooting. 

The shooting itself was a chaotic business involving rival gangs. 

Andrew also testified on the lineage of gangs operating in the area and how the "Firm Boys" became the "Terrible Firm Boys" and then the "Terrible Josters". 

ALSO READ | Major Cape Town gang trial stalls due to specialist police unit protection no-show

He said that a rival gang was known as "The Turks" and was sometimes called the "Casablancas" after the name of a pool bar they liked to visit.

All of the accused have pleaded not guilty, and some have been in custody since 2017.

During the trial, accused number one, Elton Lenting, coughed alarmingly, and Lekhuleni stopped proceedings to check on him. 

"Are you alright, Mr Lenting," asked Lekhuleni.

"Yes," he said, gruffly, doubling over into spasms of coughing, but the trial continued.

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