‘This hurts’: Coligny dad’s heartache over sentences for son’s killers
Father says 18 and 23 years behind bars is not enough for Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard
Saki Dingake cut a disappointed and dejected figure outside the Mahikeng High Court on Wednesday, hurt that his son’s killers had avoided life sentences.
Moments earlier, farmworkers Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard were handed 23-year and 18-year stints in prison respectively for the murder of Matlhomola Mosweu in the North West town of Coligny two years ago. They had previously been found guilty of murder, kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing a firearm.
Dingake said the sentences were too lenient.
“I was thinking that it would be a longer sentence, but it did not happen,” he said outside court. “That hurts me. But I will try to move on so that my son can rest in peace.”
Mosweu’s death sparked violence amid racial tensions in Coligny, after the 16-year-old was killed in 2017 for allegedly stealing sunflower seeds.
“I am always thinking too much, especially about Matlhomola, his death was not an acceptable one, it was not from God, it was deliberate; I still repeat that the sentence was too lenient on them,” his dad said.
Mosweu’s mom, Agnes, was also unhappy with the sentence – but she was happy that at least her son’s killers would spend time behind bars.
“I will finally be able to sleep at night knowing that the people who killed my son are locked up,” she said. “I feel nothing for them. They are still alive but my son is dead.”
The family weren’t the only ones who were upset by the judgment.
Stanney Mnyakama – who, armed with nothing but a photo of the dead teen, spent four days looking for Moswue’s parents – also said it was lenient.
The sole witness in the case, Bonakele Pakisi, who has repeatedly said his life was threatened for testifying against the men, said he hoped people would stop hating him now.
“They [Shutte and Doorewaard] are whites and have power. What they did is traumatic to me. The whole incident took over my life in a bad way,” he said.
“I do not live freely in my country of birth; I am constantly scared. Coligny is still ruled by whites. Racism is still there. Yes, they are in jail, but they have destroyed my life too.”
Pakisi has been accused of lying under oath in his testimony against Shutte and Doorewaard. This was after a recording emerged where he allegedly confessed to pastor Paul Murule about framing the pair.
But Judge Ronald Hendricks said Pakisi’s version was accepted by the court as honest, truthful and reliable.
“After the deceased was apprehended he was thrown, head first, from the van by Doorewaard,” the judge said.
However, this was not deemed enough to hand down life terms.
“There was no direct intention to kill the deceased,” said Judge Hendricks. “But the accused must have foreseen an impact, or saw the possibility, [that] by throwing the deceased head first from the van may result in his death, and acted recklessly with regards to the ensuing consequences,” he said.
Reaction to the case has largely been divided along racial lines. While blacks living in the Scotland informal settlement, where Mosweu lived, celebrated the sentence as a victory, white residents said it was not justice.
One of Mosweu’s neighbours, Vuyisile Mokoma, said the tragedy revealed to the entire nation the depth of racism that black people face every day in Coligny.
“I am happy with the sentence because what those white guys did was a brutal thing ... For now justice has been done. These white people of Coligny don’t want to change. There is too much racism here. The sentencing may send a good message to other white people in Coligny but I promise you they won’t change. These white people are not good at all. They treat black people very badly,” Mokoma said.
One white resident told Times Select’s sister publication, Sowetan: “The Bible says if you kill you must die … but also if you break into my house, you must die too. I am not going to break into your house, why are you breaking into mine? You greet me nicely, I greet you nicely.”
Pastor Tewie Pieters said he was not surprised by the sentence.
“We expected that. When you are a murderer, that is the least sentence they can give you. But we won’t rest until we deal with the reality of a lot of evidence that was not put to the court. I can’t wait for the appeal,” said Pieters.
“For the last three months we’ve prepared for the appeal and we are very much ready for that opportunity. To base the outcome of case on one evidence [witness] is not fair. We believe there are 15 to 20 mistakes that were made during the case [by the NPA].”