'No leniency for convicted 28s gang members'

George Thomas and 16 others have been found guilty various charges ranging from murder to racketeering.

FILE: An alleged leader of the 28s gang, George Thomas, and his 16 co-accused in court on 4 May 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The prosecution in the trial against alleged gang boss George 'Geweld' Thomas and 16 others has countered claims by the defence that some convicts should be tried as first offenders because they were last convicted almost two decades ago.

Thomas and 16 others have been found guilty various charges ranging from murder to racketeering.

Advocate Willie Viljoen says the 17 convicted gangsters acted deliberately and willingly in services of the 28s gang, even committing crimes hours after being released from prison.

Argument in aggravation of sentence has continued in the Western Cape High Court.

Some of the convicted gangsters in the dock appeared bored by the drawn-out sentencing proceedings, struggling to keep their eyes open while the state laid out its arguments in aggravation of sentence on Wednesday.

Advocate Viljoen went as far as to say if the court showed any leniency in sentencing, it would be condoning their crimes.

He further rejected the defence's claims that some of the men had last been convicted decades ago, saying some of them had only been free of charges for three or four years.

He believes the 17 convicted gangsters show no prospect of rehabilitation and their intense loyalty to the gang makes them a risk to society.

The prosecution tried to convince the court Thomas acted deliberately to earn his violent reputation.

The court has also heard Thomas made 33,000 calls from prison as an awaiting trial inmate since 2008 in a bid to maintain power from inside.

The prosecution has argued Thomas's incarceration as an awaiting trial inmate cannot be used as a mitigating factor because it was during this time that he ordered hits on several people, including state witnesses.

Thomas's defence had argued the court should be lenient towards him because he has been in isolation since 2008.

But the state says the convicted gang boss poses a grave danger to society and not hesitates to commit crimes in future.

The heavily tattooed 49-year-old has been found guilty on 53 charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering.