Pretoria : 29 September 2015 – The South African Police Service (SAPS) has noted and welcomes yesterday’s (28 September 2015) conviction of eight Soweto men by the high court sitting in Palm Ridge for racketeering, possession of unlicensed firearm and multiple robberies.

The SAPS, following a spate of armed robberies during which vehicles belonging to car rental companies were targeted in Soweto between 2012 and 2013, assembled a team consisting of detectives from stations, vehicle identification unit and crime intelligence to tackle these robbers head on.

Within a space of two months in mid-2013, a total of nine suspects were arrested in various parts of Soweto and positively linked to many of the armed robberies whose targets were vehicles belonging to companies such as Avis, Budget Car Rental and Europcar. One of the suspects died while in custody.

Meticulous attention to detail by the team, especially the lead investigator, Captain Pierre Swanepoel from the Jabulani SAPS, ensured that all of the eight suspects were positively linked to being part of one organised crime gang, therefore charged and convicted for racketeering, in line with the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 1998, which has been enacted to combat organised crime, money laundering and criminal gang activities. Conviction for racketeering carries with it hefty jail sentences, and the eight men are sure to experience the same when they are sentenced on 24 November 2015.

The eight men, whose ages range from 23 to 42, were also found guilty for various charges of robberies with aggravating circumstances. Four of the accused, Thabo Mayekiso, Nuks Nkabinde, Sicelo Sewela and Philani Skhosana, were also convicted for the murder of Mr Richard Khakhu, who was fatally shot during a robbery at the place he was residing at. His vehicle was also taken.

“This conviction, coming as it does when we are releasing annual crime statistics, will surely serve as a deterrent to other criminals in Soweto and beyond, that the arm of the law is, indeed, very long. We salute the officers involved for the job well done,” said the national commissioner of the police, General Riah Phiyega.