Fourteen Wallacedene men have been convicted of the murder of the six young men whose bodies were found on a dumping site at a Joostenbergvlakte farm in Kraaifontein in 2014.
The killings were met with widespread shock.
The verdict comes almost four years after their ringleader Bangikhaya Koni was sentenced to six life terms and 30 years for the murders and kidnappings.
Having pleaded guilty earlier in the trial, he is serving his time at the Helderstroom Prison in Caledon.
The victims – Zola Gayiya, Lizo Barnes, Sandile “Fatty” Ngxabela, Sakhele “Nonkie” Ngxabela, Lulama Dunga and Mhlanganisi Mlanjeni – were stabbed and bludgeoned to death with rocks.
The six had been rounded up by the mob vigilantes, all of whom are home boys hailing from Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, after security guard Sabelo Dambisa was gunned down by unknown men while returning from work that year.
Mr Dambisa had been robbed of his gun during the incident.
All sporting bald heads and jackets, Mr Koni’s 14 accomplices appeared before the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday April 14.
During most part of the proceedings, the men had their heads down and occasionally turned their heads, without saying a word, to look up to the gallery, where a few family members sat.
Thseopo Alfred Mathabela, Mncedisi Ndithi, Ayanda Gwarubani, Montile Tyokwe, Ayanda Koni, Khaya Booi, Luvo Litha Maqolo, Khanyile Paul, Thandisiwe Manise, Lindani Cetywayo, Sibongile Paul, Lunga Zilwa, Sipho Zilwa and Fumanekela Paul were charged with conspiracy to murder, six counts of kidnapping and six counts of murder.
Monwabisi Siyeko was previously found not guilty on all charges due to a technicality.
The men were arrested between December 17 2014 and January 18 2015. They had not see the outside of prison since as they were flagged as flight risks. All of them fled to Ngcobo, where Kraaifontein veteran policeman Lieutenant Colonel Bambela Ngxaki rounded some of them up. Others fled back to the city where they were arrested.
The grim killings are laid bare in Judge Chantel Fortuin’s 140-page judgment, dated Tuesday March 23, and which was shared with those in court this week.
The judgement’s description of the killings makes for grim reading.
The brain tissues of the men were “eviscerated”, their skulls fractured and pieces of their brains “scattered onto rocks”.
“Their mouths were covered with translucent tape and it was clear that the bodies suffered extensive blunt force trauma to the heads. This was not only a murder but a brutal slaughtering,” according to the judgment.
According to evidence by the State, witness 1, Zamekile Dambisa, Sabelo’s brother, was alerted to his brother’s killing by Koni, who asked for a R10 000 fee “to search” for the killers.
Zamekile was found not guilty of conspiracy to murder as he refuted suspicion that he sent the men to murder the six men.
He testified that he had received a threatening message from Koni, who was in a hideout after the murders, and that the incident ravaged his family.
The accused were found guilty of kidnapping on six counts and six counts of murder.
Judge Fortuin said she spent almost three years hearing and considering evidence and affording the accused their rights.
“But these rights were not afforded to any of the victims killed on December 9 2014.
“They were killed without being given an opportunity to be heard in a fair and public trial,” Judge Fortuin’s judgment read.
The judgment added that that can’t be correct in a democracy.
“The six deceased in this matter were not afforded any of these rights. They were slaughtered like animals without having an opportunity to be heard.”
Sentencing was postponed to Monday June 14 to allow a process where social workers and a probation officer will engage with the convicted killers.