Lesufi urges NPA to appeal against 'sunflower' murder acquittal

29 November 2020 - 16:06
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was angered by the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which set aside the conviction of two farmers for the murder of teenager Matlhomola Mosweu in 2017.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he was angered by the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which set aside the conviction of two farmers for the murder of teenager Matlhomola Mosweu in 2017.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Sunday expressed anger that the Supreme Court of Appeal had overturned the conviction and sentence of two 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 convicted of killing Matlhomola Mosweu in April 2017, after he was allegedly caught stealing sunflower heads. But they are now off the hook after Friday's Supreme Court ruling.

Lesufi was addressing the media on the online registration for admissions to schools in the province, where he announced that more than 41,000 pupils of the 222,000 who had applied to register for grades 1 and 8 next year are still waiting to be placed in schools.

However, at the same briefing, Lesufi — not speaking in his capacity as MEC — raised the matter of the acquittal of Phillip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard.

“I am very angry. A life was lost and the (high) court found two gentlemen guilty for a loss of life. And if the court erred and there is a need for the sentence to be reviewed ... it means it must be challenged.”

The SCA acquitted the men on Friday. AfriForum, which had funded the appeal costs of these two men, welcomed their acquittal and said it believed in their innocence.

Lesufi urged the NPA to review the case.

“That child did not kill himself. Therefore we must not be dictated by racists who believe lives of black children are not important. Here is a child, 16 year-old, murdered and we must be told no-one must be found guilty, that it was innocent, it happened. It cannot be.”

That child did not kill himself. Therefore we must not be dictated by racists who believe lives of black children are not important.

Lesufi said he was aware about the trends of organisations like AfriForum which believe, selectively, that they can defend people who are doing wrong things.

“We cannot fold our arms and say it is normal. If a court found them guilty and another court did not find them guilty, there is another court that must prove whether they are guilty or not and we urge the NPA to go and attend to that matter urgently,” Lesufi said.

Lesufi said he was going to monitor this case.

“There is a trend in this country where racists believe they can do as they please. They can go on top of police vans. They can undermine the law, go to court, intimidate the magistrate and do as they wish. That time is over.”

Meanwhile, AfriForum said the “chaotic and ineffective” school placement process for the 2021 academic year was proof that the department was not able to fulfil this function effectively and that the placement of pupils should be handled by schools themselves.

It said Lesufi should be focusing on quality education rather than on petty attacks on AfriForum regarding issues that had nothing to do with education.

Natasha Venter, AfriForum's adviser on education rights, said the online registration system as well as the placement process had, as in the past, again caused a lot of problems.

“Some parents for example contacted AfriForum after they had received messages that their children had been placed at their second or third choice of school, while the school of first choice had already accepted that child on its placement list.

“This creates the impression that the school of first choice is already full, while these children will in truth be attending another school,” Venter said.

She said this could mean that affected schools will not be filled to capacity.

“It therefore seems to AfriForum as though the Gauteng department of education is trying to manipulate the process,” Venter said.

Venter said AfriForum will continue to put pressure on the department to give more power to schools and governing bodies to handle their own school placements.

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