Skielik shootings: Johann Nel can't say why he committed race murders

2008-11-17 00:00

Mafikeng — “I don’t believe I should be punished, because I was not myself when it happened.

“To punish me for something the real me didn’t do is like punishing someone for another person’s crime,”said Johann Nel, the so-called Skielik shooter, according to a pre-sentencing report submitted at the Mmabatho High Court yesterday.

Nel pleaded guilty to four charges of murder, 11 of attempted murder and one each for the illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.

Judge Ronald Hendricks found him guilty of these charges.

On January 14 this year Nel went to the Skielik informal settlement outside Swartruggens and started shooting.

Sivuyile Peye (37), Enoch Tshepo Matshelanoka (10), Anna Moiphitlhi (31) and her two-month-old baby Elizabeth Keditlhotse died in the shootings.

Another eight people were wounded and three escaped when Nel shot at them.

Forensic criminologist Dr Irma Labuschagne said in evidence in mitigation of sentence that the big question is why Nel did it.

“I don’t think even he knows.”

Labuschagne described it as a “racist killing spree”.

One could even call it a hate crime, she said.

Nel went with the intention to shoot people of colour. He did not go to a white school and kill white children, she said.

“I get the impression he didn’t really know who he shot or why he had shot those particular people.

“I don’t believe he went with the intention to kill a baby or a child, but he did go there to kill.

“No one has the exact answer as to why he did what he did.

“When I ask him ‘what got into you?’ he tells me he can’t remember.”

According to Labuschagne’s pre-sentencing report, Nel said he could not remember much of the incident, and he was uncertain about the parts he could remember. “Sometimes I don’t know what I remember and what I’ve heard from others and what I’ve read in the papers,” he said, according to the report.

Labuschagne testified that Nel, his brother Heinrich (23), and a friend discussed what they could do to resolve the problem of farm attacks and farm murders, which confronted them daily.

She said the seed of the events on January 14 were planted in Nel’s head long before.

But Nel’s planning was poor, Labuschagne said. He did not lock the door of his parents’ home outside Swartruggens when he left, failed to cover his face and did not remember to take any drinking water along.

She said it would have been much more catastrophic if he had indeed planned it in more detail.

The case continues.

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