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Defence portrays convicted gangsters as ‘church goers’

The men were found guilty of the murder of a state witness in 2008.

FILE: An alleged leader of the 28s gang, George Thomas, and his 17 co-accused in court on 4 May 2015, they collectively face 166 charges ranging from murder to attempted murder. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The defence advocate for three convicted Cape Town gangsters has asked the court to consider his clients as first-time offenders when handing down her sentence.

Advocate Emile de Villiers says Judge Chantel Fortuin should take into consideration his clients committed crimes almost two decades ago.

Fortuin found the men guilty of murder and attempted murder.

They're part of a group of 17 gangsters convicted under the Organised Crime Act.

Howard Jansen, Peter McNeil and Derrick Claasen sat with their heads hung low as their defence advocate began his mitigation arguments.

De Villiers charges the men, raised in Bishop Lavis, are church goers who regularly supported their young children.

The men were found guilty of the murder of a state witness in 2008.

But their defence claims the state has not adequately proved the men planned to carry out the hit.

De Villiers believes the judge should be lenient in her verdict as his clients were last convicted of crimes so long ago.