The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in the Free State has welcomed the hefty sentences imposed by the Harrismith High Court on Friday, March 23, to Fernando Filepe (44), Eric Masuku (30), Albert Nyoni (38), Master Mashaba (38) and Thabane Zondo (40) for several Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) charges of truck hijacking and kidnapping.

The group was arrested in the Free state and Gauteng respectively by the Hawks’ Serious Organized Crime Investigation unit during project driven investigations in October 2015. The investigations were initiated following incidents of truck hijackings on the highways in the Eastern Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

Investigations implicated the accused in about twelve hijackings between 2012 and 2015, wherein trucks were robbed of cargo valued at approximately R8,5 million. The truck drivers were threatened with firearms, forced to accompany the suspects and dropped off at isolated areas. Five of the trucks were recovered in Mpumalanga and one in Swaziland.

The syndicate was operating between South Africa and Mozambique and they have been in custody ever since they were arrested.

The accused were sentenced as follows;

Filipe was sentenced to 125 years imprisonment for six counts of Truck Hijacking, six counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related according Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). He will serve 28 years direct imprisonment.

Masuku was sentenced to 54 years imprisonment for two counts of Truck Hijacking, three counts of kidnapping, one count of gang related according Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) and possession of unlawful and ammunitions. He will serve 25 years direct imprisonment.

Mashaba was sentenced to 145 years imprisonment for seven counts of Truck Hijacking, seven counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related according Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). He will serve 31 years direct imprisonment.

Zondo was sentenced to 95 years imprisonment for five counts of Truck Hijacking, six counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related according Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). He will serve 25 years direct imprisonment.

Nyoni was sentenced to 44 years imprisonment for two counts of Truck Hijacking, three counts of kidnapping and one count of gang related according Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). He will serve 21 years direct imprisonment.

The Hawks management applauded the investigation team and other stakeholders who played a vital role in the investigation and subsequent conviction.

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