Supreme Court overturns convictions of two farmers in Coligny 'sunflower' murder
Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard were sentenced to lengthy jail terms in 2019 for the murder of Matlhomola Mosweu
The Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the conviction and sentence of two North West farmers who were convicted of killing a teenager in a high-profile case in Coligny, in the North West.
The two farmers, Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard, were accused of killing Matlhomola Mosweu in April 2017, after he was allegedly caught stealing sunflower heads. But they are now off the hook after the Supreme Court's ruling.
Civil rights organisation AfriForum, which funded the appeal case, has welcomed the acquittal.
“We are very thankful for the acquittal of Schutte and Doorewaard. AfriForum has said from the very beginning that the state’s only witness lied and, therefore, the organisation decided to finance the application for appeal. AfriForum has covered the full costs of the application for appeal because we believed in their innocence, and today justice was served,” said Kallie Kriel, AfriForum CEO.
In March 2019, Schutte and Doorewaard were handed down sentences of 23 and 18 years in jail respectively. In November last year they were granted R20,000 bail pending leave to appeal against their conviction and sentence.
TimesLIVE could not reach North West NPA spokesperson Henry Mamothame for comment, but in an interview with news channel Newzroom Afrika he said they would study the judgment. He could not state whether the NPA would appeal, but said the prosecuting authority maintained that it had a strong case against the farmers.
Mamothame also refused to be drawn on the legitimacy of the evidence given by the only witness, who claimed to have seen what happened on the day Mosweu died.
AfriForum had previously criticised the NPA’s failure to consider cellphone records which would have shown that the witness could have not seen what happened, given the distance away he was at the time of the incident.
“I would not want to be drawn on the merits of the case or go on a public spat. What I maintain is that the state had a strong case and the high court in North West made a judgment. The appellants in the matter exercised their constitutional rights and took the matter on appeal.
“What’s important it’s for us to study it and see what recourse is there for us,” said Mamothame.