Coligny case: NPA won't appeal judgment which acquitted men found guilty of murder

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Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were the two at the centre of the case.
Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were the two at the centre of the case.
Dulile Sowaga
  • Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were originally found guilty of murdering 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu in Coligny. 
  • The SCA acquitted both men after finding the State failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • The NPA has taken a decision not to appeal the judgment as it believes there is no prospect of success in a higher court. 

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will not be appealing the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment which acquitted the two men found guilty of murdering 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu in Coligny, North West.

In 2018, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were found guilty of murdering Moshoeu after they had caught him allegedly stealing sunflowers on 20 April 2017.

The North West High Court accepted the evidence of the only eyewitness in the matter, Bonakele Pakisi, who testified that he saw the men throw Moshoeu off the back of a moving bakkie.

READ | Four more killed in Mitchells Plain

In 2019, Doorewaard was sentenced to an effective 18 years' imprisonment, while Schutte was sentenced to an effective 23 years in prison after being found guilty of murder, kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing a firearm.

Both men appealed the conviction and sentence, which was ultimately overturned in November last year when the apex court acquitted both, finding the State had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

READ | Bungled investigation, 1 eyewitness, fabricated testimony - why the Coligny accused were acquitted

The NPA confirmed to News24 on Monday it would not be appealing the SCA judgment. A spokesperson, Harry Mamothame, said:

"Following the DPP and her team of senior public prosecutors going through the SCA's judgment, they unanimously agreed that there are no reasonable prospects of overturning that judgment in a higher court."

He added that there was also no constitutional point to argue, so they would not be approaching the Constitutional Court on that avenue either.

This effectively means that the criminal matter against Doorewaard and Schutte has come to an end, unless the NPA's decision not to appeal is challenged and taken on review.

SCA judgment

All three appellate judges, who adjudicated the appeal, agreed that the standard of proof for a criminal trial was not met and the police had displayed incompetence in the way the case was investigated.

The judgment also pointed out that the only eyewitness, Pakisi, on which the State's case rested, had contradicted himself and his version was littered with inconsistencies.

Judge Nathan Ponnan even found that some of the testimony by Pakisi had been fabricated.

ANALYSIS | Why two men were acquitted of Coligny teen's murder, and what it says about the legal system

News24 previously reported that Pakisi originally said Schutte had thrown the teenager from the bakkie three times, but during his evidence before court, he said it only happened once.

This was one of the many material contradictions pointed out by the appellate judges.

Of the three SCA judges, only Judge Mahube Molemela believed that, while Doorewaard and Schutte could not be found guilty of murder, Doorewaard, who was the driver of the bakkie on the day in question, should have been found guilty of culpable homicide.

Throughout the trial and subsequently, Doorewaard and Schutte have maintained their innocence. They alleged that Moshoeu had jumped from the bakkie while they were on their way to the police station.

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