In Brief

Sunflower murder: South African farmers found guilty

Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte pushed teenager out of moving van for allegedly stealing from their employer’s field

Two farm workers who pushed a teenage boy out of a moving van after accusing him of stealing sunflowers have been convicted of murder by South Africa’s High Court.

Pieter Doorewaard, 27, and Phillip Schutte, 34, had claimed that 16-year-old Matlhomola Mosweu jumped out of their vehicle while they were taking him to the local police station after catching him stealing from their employer’s field in Coligny, a small farming community in the north of the country.

The defence called for the court to drop all charges against Schutte and downgrade the charge against Doorewaard to “culpable homicide” - a charge similar to that of manslaughter.

But the sole eyewitness of the incident, Bonakele Pakisi, testified that Mosweu, known as Faki among his friends, was pushed from the vehicle, reports South African news agency Independent Online.  A postmortem report found that the teen broke his neck when he fell from the truck.

Doorewaard and Schutte were found guilty of “murder, kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing of a firearm”.

During the hearing, Judge Ronnie Hendricks said: “It is difficult to believe the assumption that the deceased jumped from the van.

“It makes no sense. Why he would all of a sudden, and for no reason, after being so cooperative, jump? I am of the view that their [the accused’s] versions are not reasonably possibly true and are rejected.” 

South Africa’s Eyewitness News says that there was “jubilation in the courtroom” when the judge delivered his guilty verdict. A local community member said: “We are happy that Matlhomola has finally got justice, we are very happy.”

Doorewaard and Schutte will remain in custody until they appear again tomorrow for sentencing.

Mosweu’s death, in October 2017, set off a “mass violent protest” in Coligny that “left six houses and three trucks torched and several shops looted and damaged”, reports Johannesburg-based newspaper The Citizen

France24 notes that “racially charged incidents between white farm owners and managers and poor black farmhands are common in South Africa”. The news site points to a 2016 case  in which two white farmers in eastern Mpumalanga province forced a black man accused of trespassing into a coffin and threatened to set him on fire.

“The case sparked outrage after a video of the incident emerged on social media, and the two were handed jail terms of 19 and 16 years,” France24 says.

Recommended

Has Gaza avoided a fifth full-scale war?
A Palestinian woman walks through rubble in front of her home in Gaza
Today’s big question

Has Gaza avoided a fifth full-scale war?

What happened to Owami Davies?
Owami Davies
Speed Reads

What happened to Owami Davies?

Why cats prefer people who hate them
A cat
Tall Tales

Why cats prefer people who hate them

‘Cost of living will decide race’
Today’s newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Cost of living will decide race’

Popular articles

Will China invade Taiwan?
Chinese troops on mobile rocket launchers during a parade in Beijing
Fact file

Will China invade Taiwan?

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 8 August 2022

The Week Footer Banner