Alfios Majadibodu grew up in a tight-knit community where almost everyone was closely related.
Petty crimes were resolved by the traditional council, and the gang violence plaguing other parts of the country was not often seen.
But on Tuesday the people of Ga-Seleka near Lephalale in Limpopo watched in horror as Alfios was killed in cold blood by a rival gang in a turf war.
He was stabbed with a spear, slashed with machetes and his head was smashed with stones. All on a busy street in the heart of the village – something never seen before in rural Ga-Seleka.
Villagers trace the change back to the construction of the Medupi power station, commissioned in 2015.
With the influx of new workers and businesses, in a short period of time the community was suddenly marred by social ills like substance abuse, alcoholism and prostitution.
And then came the gangs.
The Seleka Traditional Royal Council couldn’t resolve the criminal cases anymore and police found themselves swamped with cases of armed robbery, assault, rape and murder.
Residents started taking the law into their own hands.
Now gangs like Black Jack and the Russians rule the streets, terrorising villagers.
Alfios, 30, became ring leader of the notorious Black Jack, a ferocious gang made up mainly of teenagers.
Many in the community said they are relieved he will no longer walk their streets.
His neighbours rejoiced silently while his relatives were relieved that they won’t be called names anymore because of him.
Thabo Mojela, Alfios’s neighbour, said his death was a relief because community members were saying his home had borne a monster.
Thabo said: “Clearly, his death is good riddance. His victims were reluctant to report him to the police because when he was arrested he was soon released.”
Police have arrested 17 suspects including three minors in connection with the killing.
Provincial police commissioner Thembi Hadebe said incidents such as these can’t be allowed to take root.
“The police will continue to hunt down the remaining suspects and bring them to book,” he said.