Pair go free after state fails to prove racial slur

2013-03-08 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG brothers Jean-Pierre and Nicholas du Plooy were in a celebratory mood yesterday after being found not guilty of racially abusing and assaulting a patron outside a local nightclub.

They were charged with assaulting a Zimbabwean man, Likwando Mbunwae, calling him the “K” word and referring to his female companion as a “monkey lover”.

The incident happened outside the Crowded House nightclub in September 2011.

Mbunwae’s version of what happened differed from that of the Du Plooy brothers.

Mbunwae claimed that following a verbal altercation with the Du Plooys, they repeatedly punched him while he was on the ground until someone pulled them off him.

He said he suffered a black eye, swelling on the left side of his face and a cut on the right side.

The brothers claimed they had acted in self-defence after Mbunwae challenged Nicholas to a fight outside the club and pulled a knife from his back pocket.

They said Jean-Pierre had thrown a punch at Mbunwae, but missed. Nicholas then hit him, threw him to the ground and held him in a head lock so that he could not move.

“It is a great relief for us. It has been a very stressful time.

“We are pleased that we have been exonerated and that people now know that we are not what we were made out to be, which is racist brawlers,” Jean-Pierre said.

Their parents, Nico and Donna du Plooy, said the case had taken its toll on the family, both emotionally and financially, with legal costs running to more than R100 000.

“Nicholas lost his job [as a sports coach at a local school] because of these charges,” Nico du Plooy said.

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Linda Lewis said in her judgment she could not tell where the truth lay, but the state had failed to prove its case against the Du Plooys.

She said Mbunwae was a single witness whose evidence had to be approached with caution.

The state had not called any witnesses to back up his version.

According to the bouncers on duty at the club that night, Mbunwae had challenged Nicholas to “go one on one” with him outside the club, after calling the brothers “white trash”.

Lewis said that although she did not believe Mbunwae had a knife at the time of the fight, she accepted that the Du Plooys might have seen his hand moving to his back pocket as a potential threat.

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