‘He’s free, but my nephew’s dead

2010-10-03 10:24

The family of Richard Mathebula, the man who died while facing a murder trial along with Mark Scott-Crossley, ­reacted bitterly to the news of ­Scott-Crossley’s freedom.

Scott-Crossley finished his parole in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, this week and is now a free man.

Mathebula was one of the four suspects accused of ­murdering Nelson Chisale and feeding him to lions in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, in 2004.

He died from a tuberculosis-related illness while the trial was under way in 2006.

Mathebula’s aunt, Assah Mathebula, said from the late man’s RDP house in Acornhoek that she read about Scott-Crossley’s freedom for the first time in City Press.

“He is a free man today yet he caused all the trouble,” Mathebula said.

“The law seems to be favouring whites. They could have had the decency to tell us that Scott-Crossley was being released. My brother’s son died with a murder case ­hanging over his head.”

Scott-Crossley was not on his Hoedspruit game reserve on Friday.

He said he was in Johannesburg and refused to be interviewed telephonically.

He said: “I am coming back to Hoedspruit on October 11. I’d ­prefer to talk to you face to face so that I know what you are going to write is correct.”

Scott-Crossley is quite popular in the Hoedspruit area.

A security guard from a neighbouring game reserve said he was a good man. “Just phone that number at the gate and he will come open for you.

“He is a good man. Prison ­softened him up,” he said.

In 2004 Scott-Crossley, Mathebula, Simon Mathebula and Robert Mnisi were ­accused of assaulting Chisale before throwing him into a white lion’s enclosure.

Scott-Crossley had fired Chisale from his construction business at the Engedi game farm.

Chisale had been helping with the building of a lodge on the farm when he was fired.

He was killed when he returned to collect some of his ­belongings.

In 2005, the Phalaborwa Circuit Court found Scott-Crossley guilty of murder and handed him a life sentence.
­
Simon Mathebula was sentenced to 15 years while Mnisi received ­indemnity when he turned state witness.

Richard Mathebula could not stand trial as his health deteriorated until he died in 2006.

Scott-Crossley appealed his sentence and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) set aside his murder conviction for the lesser offence of being an accessory.

It found that Scott-Crossley had only used his bakkie to ­transport Chisale’s body to the ­lion’s enclosure after he had ­already been assaulted and killed by the three co-accused.

The SCA substituted five years’ imprisonment on the lesser offence.

Scott-Crossley was placed on parole in 2008.
 

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