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‘Socio-economic problems can't be blamed for violent crimes’

The judge says the convicted gangsters committed murders in public view without fear of consequence.

FILE: An alleged leader of the 28s gang, George 'Geweld' Thomas (L) and his 16 co-accused in court. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - A Western Cape High Court judge presiding over the trial of a gang boss and 16 others says socio-economic problems cannot be blamed for the violent crimes committed by gangsters.

Judge Chantel Fortuin on Wednesday sentenced convicted gang boss George 'Geweld' Thomas to seven life jail terms.

Six of the other 16 men are convicted for various crimes committed between 2006 and 2010 were also handed life sentences.

The court heard how Thomas meticulously targeted his victims and hunted them down like animals.

Thomas, a well-trained sharpshooter, is known to have murdered his victims with one shot using a hunting rifle.

Fortuin said Geweld and 16 henchmen, deliberately and willingly carried out their crimes in service of the 28s gang, in a bid to rule the streets of Bishop Lavis and surrounding areas.

She said the men often committed murders in full public view without fear of consequence.

The judge argued that the brutality of these crimes convinced her to hand down maximum sentences.

GEWELD CONTROLLED 28S GANG LIKE ENTERPRISE

Fortuin ruled that Thomas used his high rank within the 28s prison gang to order the murders of seven people between 2008 and 2010.

Arguing in aggravation of sentence, the prosecution reminded the court of his previous convictions of house breaking as a nine-year-old, murder as a 20-year-old and assault of a prison warder during his incarceration.

In response, Geweld told the court he retaliated because the warder had sexually assaulted him at Brandvlei Prison.

The 49-year-old continued to deny involvement in the crimes he's been convicted of and believes an appeal could be successful.

Fortuin said during his time as an awaiting trial prisoner at five different facilities, Thomas made more than 1,300 cellphone calls to his henchmen every month.

Cellphone records revealed all the calls were made after 4pm which is when prison warders changed shifts.

The judge said the state successfully proved the convicted gang boss controlled the prison gang as an enterprise.

'I'M NOT A LETHAL GANG BOSS'

During his testimony, Thomas said he's not the lethal gang boss the prosecution alleges he is.

Thomas claimed to no longer be an active member of the 28s gang.

He argued that he has not been in a position to order any murders while he has been in jail.

Thomas has also denied being a danger to society adding he's often praised for his good behavior in prison.

The convicted gang boss denied having a high rank within the gang, saying as a 'sergeant', he was only able to train new members and not order instructions.

Fortuin however has rejected the testimony as improbable.

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