Cape Town - Former motor mechanic Johannes Christiaan de Jager was handed three life sentences in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday for killing two teenagers and raping one.

Acting Judge Chuma Cossie found there were no substantial and compelling circumstances that allowed her to deviate from prescribed minimum sentences.

“In my view, therefore, even in view of the time spent in custody during the trial, the prescribed minimum sentences are in totality... compellingly the only manner in which justice can be dispensed,” she said.

The life sentences would run concurrently.

De Jager, 49, was last month convicted of killing 18-year-old sex worker Hiltina Alexander in 2008 and 16-year-old Charmaine Mare last year. Both crimes were committed in Cape Town.

He was also convicted of raping Alexander vaginally and anally.

Six years in jail were handed down for dismembering Mare's corpse and three months for stealing her cellphone.

De Jager dressed in jeans, a checked shirt, and blue jersey, smirked as the sentence was handed down. He leaned in a relaxed manner against the dock and looked around at the people in court.

Outside court, sex workers ululated and threw their arms up in the air in joy at the sentences. - Sapa