Coligny sunflower murderers sentenced to 23 and 18 years in prison

0
390
Convicted murderers Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte. Photo: @CapricornFMNews

The two men convicted in the so-called Coligny sunflower murder have been sentenced to 23 years and 18 years in prison.

Accused number one – Pieter Doorewaard – was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for murder with an additional three years for kidnapping, an additional two years for intimidation, one year for theft and two for pointing a firearm.  The sentences will run concurrently, meaning he will effectively serve 18 years in prison.

Accused number two – Phillip Schutte – was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for murder, as well as three years for kidnapping, an additional two years for intimidation, one year for theft and two for pointing a firearm. The sentences will also run concurrently, meaning he will effectively serve 23 years in prison.

Judge Ronnie Hendricks handed down sentence against Doorewaard, aged 27 and 34-year-old Schutte, who were found guilty of killing teenager Matlhomola Mosweu in April 2017 by pushing him out of a moving van after they found him stealing sunflower heads in their employer’s field at Rietvlei farm.

Hendricks found that there were sufficient circumstances for him not to impose life imprisonment on the pair. He found that the murder was not planned or premeditated and that there was no direct intention to kill Mosweu, but that the accused must have foreseen that throwing the deceased from a moving vehicle may have resulted in his death.

Hendricks also took into account the fact that the pair were first offenders and their personal circumstances.

The North West high court in Mmabatho, Mahikeng was packed to capacity on Wednesday ahead of the sentencing of two men convicted in the so-called Coligny sunflower murder.

The pair arrived in court dressed in dark suits and greeted family members, bowing their heads as photographers took their pictures.

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) took up most of the space in the public gallery.

Friends and family members of the pair occupied the seats on the right hand side of the court room behind the EFF.

Police were deployed in court to maintain order given the emotive nature of the case.

Hendricks called the pairs actions on the day of the murder “disgraceful and appalling”.

Apart from their actions resulting in Mosweu’s death, the pair also “forced him into a bakkie against his will, kidnapped and assaulted him, forced him to drink liquor and eat his own vomit, fired shots at him and intimidated him,” according to the judge.

If that was not enough, when you confronted him, you forced him onto the bakkie against his will, you kidnapped and assaulted him, forced him to drink liquor and eat his own vomit, fired shots at him, intimidated him.

In addition to killing Mosweu, who was 16, Doorewaard and Schutte were also convicted of kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing a firearm.

The pair killed Mosweu for the alleged theft of sunflower heads worth R80.

His death sparked violent mass protests that left six houses and three trucks torched and shops looted in Coligny as the town was divided along racial lines.

Doorewaard and Schutte were found guilty of murder, kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing of a firearm in October, 2018.

Advocate Celice Zwiegelaar for Doorewaard told court that his client had shown remorse.

“In sentencing, the court should consider what the society needs and not what the society want,” she said.

“The society in this matter does not need life imprisonment. My Lord, I am not saying accused one should not be punished. The society in this matter does not need life imprisonment as far as court one [murder] is concerned.,” Zwiegelaar said during mitigation of sentence.

Advocate Pieter Smit for Schutte said the two had already been subject to trial in the court of public opinion.

He asked the court to consider that Schutte was married with three minor children and is the sole provider for his family.

Prosecutor Rapula Molefe, however, said the court should impose a life sentence, adding that the two did not show remorse.

Doorewaard and Schutte claimed Mosweu jumped out of a moving van, while they were taking him to the police station in Coligny after they found him stealing sunflower seeds at their employer’s farm.

The court had rejected their version and accepted the testimony of the sole eyewitness of the incident, Bonakele Pakisi.

Pakisi testified that he saw Mosweu being thrown out of a moving van.

Kriel said they would lodge an appeal following reports that Pakisi admitted he had lied to the court to a priest. His confession was allegedly recorded.

Rapport revealed in January it had heard a recording in which Bonakele Pakisi said he hadn’t been telling the truth when he testified that Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte had murdered 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu in April 2017.

The next day, however, Pakisi told the Sowetan he was actually forced to change his testimony and that the recording was allegedly gained through intimidation by being shown a firearm and being forced to read an already prepared statement.

AfriForum, meanwhile announced that they will be assisting in the pair’s appealing the verdict of the case, saying prominent advocate Barry Roux will lead the appeal.

“Advocate Barry Roux has indicated that he will handle the appeal process. The appeal process can only start only after sentencing,” said CEO Kallie Kriel.

Kriel said the defence legal team had consulted with Roux.

Compiled by Daniel Friedman / Background reporting by African News Agency / The Citizen