Coligny killing: Supreme Court of Appeal finds accused not guilty, overturns convictions

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Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte.
Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte.
Dulile Sowaga
  • Sixteen-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu died on April 20, 2017 in Coligny in the North West.
  • Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were originally found guilty of murdering Moshoeu by throwing him off of a moving bakkie.
  • The Supreme Court of Appeal found that Doorewaard and Schutte were not guilty and overturned their convictions and sentences.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has acquitted two men who were previously found guilty of murdering 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu who died on April 20, 2017 in Coligny in the North West.

In 2017, the State alleged that Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte had killed the teenager after they caught him stealing sunflower heads at a farm.

At the time, it was successfully argued that Moshoeu was thrown from a moving bakkie.

READ | Coligny murder: Men sentenced to 23 and 18 years in jail

His death was met with anger in Coligny and many believed that racism was a factor. Protests ensued in the small town.

In November 2018, the North West High Court found Doorewaard and Schutte guilty of murder, kidnapping, intimidation, theft, and pointing a firearm.

Judge Ronnie Hendricks said at the time that the murder was not planned and not premediated. He found that the incident happened as a result of dolus eventualis (indirect intention), News24 previously reported.

Hendricks also said he was satisfied with the evidence led by the only eyewitness in the matter, saying that Bonakele Pakisi was honest, truthful and reliable.

Hendricks added that there was no practical reason why Pakisi would have invented the evidence because he remembered "each and every scene" and was able to describe what had happened at various scenes.

Later, Rapport reported that Pakisi admitted that he lied to the court and even stated that he was not at the scene when the incident happened. 

READ | 'It's too late to apologise' - mother of murdered Coligny teen

Less than a year later, in 2019, Doorewaard was sentenced to an effective 18 years in prison and Schutte was sentenced to an effective 23 years in prison.

Doorewaard was sentenced to:

  • 15 years in prison for murder;
  • 3 years for kidnapping;
  • 2 years for intimidation;
  • 2 years for pointing of a firearm; and
  • 1 year for theft.

Schutte was sentenced to:

  • 20 years in prison for murder;
  • 3 years kidnapping;
  • 2 years for intimidation;
  • 2 years for pointing a firearm; and
  • 1 year for theft.

The court ordered that some of the sentences run concurrently.

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

The men were granted bail in November 2019 after they appealed their convictions and sentences.

READ | Coligny killers granted R20 000 bail each ahead of SCA appeal

At the time, News24 reported that their legal team - led by advocate Barry Roux, SC - secured them leave to appeal their convictions directly to the SCA in Bloemfontein.

Roux's legal bill was financed by lobby group AfriForum.

At the time, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said:

"We know the men are innocent and they do not deserve to be in prison for a day longer. They have been in detention for 13 months and it is 13 months too long."

In a summary of the judgment, which was delivered on Friday, the SCA set aside the convictions and sentences and ruled that Doorewaard and Schutte were "not guilty and discharged".

As a result, Doorewaard and Schutte are now free men.

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