Skielik murder case: He was terrified of the 'swart gevaar'

2008-11-18 00:00

Mafikeng — “Come out, you bloody k****rs. I’m going to kill you today, you black bastards.”

This, said prosecutor advocate Sello Maema, is what Johann Nel (19) shouted at residents in the Skielik informal settlement outside Swartruggens on January 14 as they fled in all directions when he started shooting at them.

Forensic criminologist Dr Irma Labuschagne testified that Nel could not handle his fear of the “swart gevaar”.

His fear was born of the idea that “we will be attacked and murdered”, Labuschagne said.

She said this fear of black people changed into hatred of the “swart gevaar”.

Labuschagne was testifying in mitigation of sentence at the Mmabatho High Court.

On Monday, Nel was found guilty on four charges of murder, 11 of attempted murder, and one each of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

According to Labuschagne’s pre-sentencing report, Nel had developed a racist attitude.

“He believes there is a war going on out there and that the enemy can and must be controlled.”

Maema put it to Labuschagne that Nel’s actions were “inhuman”. In addition, it was a racist attack, he said.

Enoch Matshelanoka (10) was on his way to fetch water with a toy cart made from a cooldrink crate. When Nel shot him, he fell forward into the cart and died.

Elizabeth Moiphitlhi, a two-month-old baby and her mother, Annah, were shot at a distance of 40 cm.

Some residents in the settlement were busy doing their laundry while others were weeding their gardens.

Labuschagne said they were “innocent people who could not defend themselves”.

“The act was unadulterated evil, but Johann is not an evil person,” she said.

“According to the pre-sentencing report, Nel said he had been watching television on the day of the incident. Then he took his father’s .303 rifle and drove towards Swartruggens. A bakkie cut in in front of him, whereupon he stopped on the dirt next to the Skielik informal settlement.

“That’s when I got out and shot the first person I saw,” the report quoted him as saying.

“I’m not sure what happened then, but I know I shot at some other people too.

“I don’t know why it happened. I feel others are responsible for what happened.

“I’m not sure who the victims were … I don’t know how I felt while I was doing it. I’m not sure who suffered because of what I did.

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

“Now I feel bad about it.”

Maema said Nel stopped shooting because he ran out of ammunition.

According to the charge sheet Nel fired at least 125 rounds.

When he ran out of ammunition, he went to farmers in the area and asked for more ammunition.

They refused to help him.

The case continues.

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