Found guilty of committing the “gruesome” Woodstock massacre in 2007, seven men sat stony-faced before Judge Andre le Grange, speaking only to one another.
In the dock were Moenedien Caesar, Junaid Mitchell, Ismail Caesar, Allan Albert, Ikaraam Masarapa, Lucian Mackay and Michael Sam.
The seven had each faced 45 counts on charges relating to theft, possession of drugs, murder and attempted murder, among other things.
While they were all found guilty of murder, they were each convicted individually of a variety of the crimes included in the 45 counts.
The Woodstock massacre, which was at the centre of the criminal trial, saw five people killed execution-style.
It was believed to be an attack carried out in retaliation for the murders of gang leaders Mark “Marky Mokes” Williams and Rasan “Charra” Naidoo in November that year.
It appeared to be aimed at rival Americans boss Mogamat Madatt.
Several of Madatt’s taxis were also set alight after the killings.
All seven had pleaded not guilty. But moments earlier, Judge Le Grange convicted all the men of the murders, including Mitchell - who he identified as a “mastermind” behind the planning of the attack in an Albert Road warehouse.
“(Mitchell) was one of the persons who masterminded the planning, acquisition of weapons and the execution of the planned attack despite the evidence that he was not at the premises during the attack on Madatt’s premises,” said Judge Le Grange, who read out a lengthy judgment.
“All of the accused contradicted themselves on their own versions. It is clear that all of their versions are highly improbable.”
Judge Le Grange said that the Woodstock massacre seemed to have served as the “catalyst” that “intensified” police investigations around the gang-related violence at the time.
Reviewing the trial and the respective witness testimonies, he said that the defence had presented a “blanket denial” on events surrounding the killings.
“They said they were not members of the Americans gang and had no knowledge of the five people murdered in Woodstock,” said Judge Le Grange.
“The only issue that was in dispute in terms of the massacre was the identity of the perpetrators.”
Judge Le Grange went on to say that cellphone evidence had been particularly “damning” in terms of SMSes that were sent between the men and calls that were made.
It had also been crucial in terms of indicating their respective locations at the time of the incident.
Particularly damning was an SMS sent from one of the phones confiscated from three of the men at the time of their arrest.
The text message described the bodies at the scene and referred to the taxis that were set alight.
Chillingly, a witness, Gail Marcus, mother of one of one of the men’s victims, Tamzin Jordaan, told the court earlier she was forced to listen to her daughter die when she received a call from one of the cellphone numbers.
Meanwhile, Judge Le Grange said he found evidence presented by investigating officer Paul Hendrikse to be “reliable” and that it should be accepted by the court.
Sentencing proceedings in terms of mitigating and aggravating circumstances are expected to start today. - Cape Times