Gerrie Nel and Barry Roux team up to defend Coligny killers
And while the heavyweights insist the pair are innocent, a local principal tells court they should be put away for life
Legal heavyweights Barry Roux and AfriForum’s Gerrie Nel will fight the appeal proceedings of the farmworkers convicted of the murder of a Coligny teenager.
AfriForum's Kallie Kriel said Roux would lead the defence while Nel would provide input.
Nel, who is dubbed the Bulldog, and Roux, the fierce lawyer of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius, went head to head during Pistorius’s trial.
In the North West High Court on Monday morning, Kriel told Times Select the lobby group would fund the legal battle for Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte.
“This was a very tragic incident, but what has since come to the fore is that the only eyewitness lied and now he is trying to deny that.
“We believe, although this was a very sad incident, that these two men are not guilty of murder. That is why we are going to assist them in their appeal process,” Kriel said.
Doorewaard and Schutte were convicted in October 2018 of murdering Matlhomola Mosweu. They were also found guilty of his kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing a firearm, following a lengthy trial.
The incident occurred on April 20 2017. The 16-year-old Mosweu was believed to have been thrown out of a moving bakkie.
The state called its first witness, a local principal, Stanley Mnyakama, during sentencing in aggravation proceedings on Monday morning.
The calm Mnyakama spoke fluently in the packed court with family and EFF members. Before proceedings got under way the two farmworkers hugged and kissed sobbing relatives.
The man testified that life imprisonment would be an appropriate sentence for Doorewaard and Schutte.
“You see, the two accused [Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte], their families can still go visit them, talk to them, hug them, and see them and one day they might even be forgiven ... but the family of Moswea [Matlhomola] will never hug or talk to their son.
“They deserve what they deserve. If it was in the old days, I would have said they must be hanged, but for now life sentence will do,” Mnyakama told the court.
He said the situation in Coligny turned violent after residents learnt that no one had been arrested for the death of Mosweu.
According to him, the residents said: “Die poppe gaan dans [here comes trouble].”
The farming town was turned upside down when Doorewaard and Schutte were granted bail.
The houses of several white residents were burnt down in the wake of that decision, and foreign-owned shops were looted.
During cross-examination, advocate Cecile Zwiegelaar, acting for Doorewaard, asked what the current situation in Coligny was.
Mnyakama said the situation in the town had calmed down, but that would depend on what happened in the case because it would “trigger everything”.
“Is it for that reason you say that life sentence is called for?” Zwiegelaar asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
Advocate Pieter Smit, for Schutte, argued that Mnyakama had “very little control” over community leaders taking children out of the schools.
“There are two schools in one yard. Police were paralysed. People came in and took children out; you can’t even call the police,” he said.
Smit asked Mnyakama if he would consider the burning of houses a “struggle for justice”.
“When people are angry, they can do anything.
“If you would understand, there were innocent people who were affected. They were burning everything that disturbed them,” Mnyakama said. He said the onus was not just on him to educate people when it came to being on the right side of the law.
He said Smit could also go to residents and have workshops and educate them about the law.
“Every has his own role,” he said. Smit said: “I take it as you won’t tell people to abide by the court judgment. I asked you a simple question then you come with your life lessons.”
Mnyakama replied: “I’m saying everyone has a role to play. It seems like you want me to go from house to house and lecture them. Don’t be selected, my friend.” Smit asked again: “When you get the opportunity will you tell people to abide by the court judgment or not?”
“I’m saying I will play my role, what does that mean? You also have to play your role.”
Judge Ronald Hendricks urged Smit to continue, saying the question had been answered in “all fairness”. The matter continues on Tuesday.