The eight denied any involvement in the killing of Mbo Buti Mahlangu, but several witnesses on the scene told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that they saw the eight hitting him for several hours.
Asked why they were attacking him, one of the accused said it was because he was “a nyaope boy who caused a lot of problems”.
The eight are Buti Mtsweni, 53, Joseph Baloyi, 51, Dinah Skosana, 32, Ivy Masombuka, 30, Bongani Masilela, 32, Zilani Msiza, 58, Senzo Mhlanga, 25 and ward councillor Klaas Mtsweni, 36.
In sentencing the group, acting Judge Prince Manyathi said a clear message should be sent out to the community, that mob justice would not be tolerated.
He said people could not simply take the law into their own hands, as this was the task of the courts.
He also said the members of the community looked up to the CPF to protect and safeguard them, they did not expect these leaders to pose a danger to others who are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Prosecutor Ntsika Mpolweni asked the court to impose the ultimate sentence – 15 years.
He said this was a case where the courts had to send out a stern warning that this type of conduct would not be tolerated.
One of the eye witnesses testified that the screams and crying of the victim was so bad that he turned around and went home after watching the continuous assault. The witness said not even animals were abused in this manner.
Mahlangu was beaten to death with shovels, sjamboks and a steel pipe. One of the accused even at some stage stuffed a sock into his mouth so that his cries for help were muffled.
Among the eight accused are two women, who actively took part in the beatings.
Each of the accused forwarded an alibi for the night of August 26, 2015, when Mahlangu was murdered.
Most of them said they were at home, watching either a soapie or soccer on television, while some said they did not feel well that day and had spent the day indoors.
Each called a witness to collaborate his or her alibi. But the court in each case found this to be a lie.
Local resident Patrick Nkosi, who said he knew the CPF members well, testified that he saw them assaulting Mahlangu.
He stood so close to the action that he even heard what they were saying to him.
Nkosi was on his way to the shop that night, when he noticed all the accused huddled around a man. He asked one of them what was happening and he said “we got hold of that boy”.
He testified that he saw them dragging Mahlangu to a nearby sports field where they cuffed him. They then took turns hitting him with whatever they could lay their hands on. They were standing under a spotlight and he could clearly see what was going on.
“One of the accused told the boy ‘we are tired of you. We are going to kill you’.”.
Nkosi said he asked the councillor to rather call the police to handle the situation, but Mtsweni told him to mind his own business and that they would deal with the situation.
He said he knew the victim and he also often became fed-up with his ways, but he said mob justice was not the way in which to deal with the situation.
While he appreciated the good job the CPF normally did in the community, he felt it was his duty to report the assault to the police.