Coligny burns again, moments after men accused of murder are granted bail

Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard were granted bail on Monday (May 8 2017). They have been accused of being involved in the death of a boy in the farming town of Coligny. Picture: Felix Ndlangamandla/Beeld
Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard were granted bail on Monday (May 8 2017). They have been accused of being involved in the death of a boy in the farming town of Coligny. Picture: Felix Ndlangamandla/Beeld

Just moments after Magistrate Makgaola Foso granted bail to the two men accused of killing a 16-year-old boy in Coligny, fire-fighters were battling flames at a farmhouse not far from the fields where the alleged incident happened.

Community members could be seen burning tyres about 400 metres away from the burning house, where at least one photojournalist was attacked by a gun-wielding man who appeared to be the owner. Another photojournalist had her camera lens broken in a scuffle with the man who was screaming at journalists, ordering them out of the burning property.

Foso said earlier that the two men could not be held in jail because of fears for public disorder. He said the pair were being granted bail in the interests of justice. Meanwhile, tension was thickening in the area with more clouds of smoke seen from the direction of the Tlhabologang township.

A police helicopter was hovering over the area as fears were raised that more properties could be attacked.

The two men were accused of killing 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu by throwing him out of a moving vehicle.

On hearing that they had been granted bail, the large crowd that was outside the courtroom, chanting slogans against the granting of bail, surged towards the township with their hands in the air – a clear indication that they were unhappy at the outcome.

Moshoeu’s father, Sakkie Dingake, failed to contain himself and had to be asked to keep quiet in court just after bail was granted.

“This is my son. They are now going back to work after killing my son so cruelly. What about my son? He is dead, he is sleeping forever,” Dingake said.

Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte, aged 26 and 34 respectively, offered to pay R20 000 bail but Magistrate Makgaola Foso granted them R5 000 bail this morning.

Foso said he was satisfied the pair would not evade trial and had considered that they did not have previous convictions or any pending cases. He said the state’s argument during the bail application was based on the version given by a witness who did not come to court.

He said the state was using “hearsay” and that the witness could later refute it in court.

Foso said the court could not commit to the credibility of this witness, who was yet to identify the two men and had also not identified the deceased as the same person he saw on April 20, when Moshoeu died.

Foso said because the post-mortem results were still outstanding the cause of death remained unknown.

The two men maintained that they apprehended Moshoeu after finding him stealing sunflowers in their employer’s fields.

They said they ordered the youngster in the back of their bakkie with the intention of handing him over to the police but he jumped from the moving vehicle trying to escape and later died.

On the state’s submission that public disorder could return to Coligny if bail, which was largely opposed by the black community, was granted, Foso said the state could not “be held ransom [as it is its] fundamental function to disperse justice in line with the legal principle”.

He said the state’s case was “not strong” and that there was no link between the state witness’s version and the accused pair.

Foso referred to the murder of Andries Tatane during a violent service delivery protest in the Free State, where the court denied the accused bail.

“My colleague in the Free State took the easy way out, and succumbed to the pressure [that public violence won’t end if bail was granted]. But the high court decided later that the magistrate was wrong,” he said.

Meanwhile, very few community members had remained in the vicinity of the court.

One house, owned by white residents, was set alight shortly after the judgment, and police advised the media not to drive into their township for their own safety.

A police helicopter could be seen hovering above the area while police Nyalas and other marked vehicles could be seen speeding down the town’s main street.

All businesses in the small town have been closed.

The town was almost razed to the ground when the angry community went on a rampage looting shops and burning white-owned houses. They were calling for the arrest of Doorewaard and Schutte.

Poloko Tau
City Press
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