Gang members who terrorised a sleepy Free State town slapped with multiple life sentences

The gangsters were sentenced in the Free State High Court. File Picture

The gangsters were sentenced in the Free State High Court. File Picture

Published May 15, 2024


Two gangsters have been handed hefty sentences in the Free State High Court after their killing spree in Meqheleng near Ficksburg in the eastern Free State.

Phakathi Patrick Stoffel, 30, and Jampo Lucas Khabane, 28, were convicted on charges of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) in gang-related offences, three counts of murder, attempted murders, illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of ammunition, as well as intimidation of witnesses.

The provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mojalefa Senokoatsane said the State’s case emanates from incidents between September 2021 and May 2022, when the duo terrorised the communities of Meqheleng without mercy on their path to fight rival gangs as part of their turf wars.

On September 11, 2021, the duo attacked and killed Teboho Petrus Matona. Continuing with their reign of terror on March 12, 2022, the men attacked and killed Ntiso Pheko at Mike Panelbeaters near Meqheleng.

On the same day, in a tavern in Meqheleng, the accused attacked and killed Masilo Richard Moeketsi. The court heard the victims were killed for allegedly being members of a rival gang.

“During their reign of terror, in continuing with their culture of tormenting the communities of this sleepy town, they also tried to kill several other people, who fortunately survived to tell their harrowing stories at the hands of these gang members.

“The duo's reign of acting with impunity came to an end when they were arrested and charged. Even though there were stumbling blocks in the State's intention to commence with the trial, like the unavailability of the ballistics reports as part of bolstering the State’s case, State advocate Dansi Mpemvane embarked on the trial in earnest,” Senokoatsane said.

During the trial, Mpemvane put it to the court that these gang members terrorised the communities without fear and respect for the law, and that they were a law unto themselves and showed no remorse. The State further argued that a clear message needed to be sent to organised crime bandits who were operating with impunity, that the State was serious about fighting gangs, particularly in areas that had previously been regarded as peaceful, and that the communities should be gang-free areas.

The State also called numerous witnesses, including a former member of the gang who detailed how the gang operated and their ruthless tactics in terrorising the community.

Stoffel was sentenced to three life terms, five years for gang-related offences, three years for each count of the three attempted murder charges, as well as three years for intimidation of a witness.

Khabane was sentenced to two life terms and five years in respect of the charge of gang-related offences.