Why the sunflower case must be appealed
North West High Court (Mmabatho) Judge Ronnie Hendricks has made a ‘scandalous’ ruling, according to the Institute of Race Relations’ Gabriel Crouse. The judge found Pieter Doorewaard and Philip Schutte guilty of killing Matlhomola Moshoeu by throwing him off a bakkie for stealing sunflowers, and has subsequently denied their appeal.
In an analysis on the Politicsweb site, Crouse says there are three reasons – each independently strong enough – to revise Hendricks’ verdict in Doorewaard and Schutte’s favour. ‘In concert, the reasons are overwhelming, and the refusal to grant leave to appeal is thus beyond comprehension,’ he says.
* The case against the two was built on the allegations of a sole witness, Bendel Pakisi – who subsequently said he made the whole story up, and then said he had been bribed to ‘confess’ that he was a liar, maintaining that his original allegations were actually true. Pakisi initially claimed he saw two white males committing murder, but later changed his story to say there were three. This was inexplicable, since Pakisi claims to have spent hours in the company of Doorewaard and Schutte, who were alleged to have abducted and tortured him in the aftermath of the incident.
* The state’s pathologist found that the most remarkable thing about Moshoeu’s injuries was that there were none to the palms, hands, or wrists. His injuries were consistent with a tuck-and-roll type fall, but not with a palms-out dive. However, in court, Pakisi described seeing Moshoeu ‘fly’ from the bakkie in a swimmer’s dive position.
* Pakisi described being taken by the assailants on a hell ride that stretched from Coligny almost as far as Lichtenburg. Even if they travelled at 120km/h and conducted the various tortures, this would have taken an hour. Doorewaard and Schutte’s phones, however, indicate that they could not have left the vicinity of Coligny and its immediate surrounds for more than a few minutes at a time that morning.
Crouse adds a crucial aspect reflecting a political element to the case is the testimony of Warrant Officer Popo Seponkane, who knew Pakisi and doubted his story from the start. Seponkane did not appear to testify before the court, citing fear for his life and the safety of his family. Crouse says Hendricks failed to determine why a police officer might see the prospect of giving witness under oath, in court, as a life-threatening event. He adds the process of appeal is not exhausted, as AfriForum is set to take the case to the SCA.
© Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd 2016
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