The North West High Court has made another scandalous ruling. Last year Judge Ronnie Hendricks found Pieter Doorewaard and Philip Schutte guilty of killing Matlhomola Moshoeu by throwing him off a bakkie for stealing sunflowers. Now, their appeal against the judgment has been denied.
There are three reasons each independently strong enough to revise Judge Hendricks’s verdict in Doorewaard and Schutte’s favour. In concert, the reasons are overwhelming, and the refusal to grant leave to appeal is thus beyond comprehension.
The case against Doorewaard and Schutte was built on the allegations of a sole witness, part-time Coligny butcher, Bendel Pakisi. Pakisi subsequently said he made the whole story up, and then said that he had been bribed to ‘confess’ that he was a liar, maintaining that his original allegations were actually true. This is not primarily relevant to the court as it came up after the trial and is highly disputable.
What is relevant is that Pakisi initially told senior policemen he saw two white males committing murder, but later changed his story to say there were three. This was inexplicable, since Pakisi claims to have spent hours in the company of Doorewaard and Schutte, who were alleged to have abducted and tortured him in the aftermath of the incident in the sunflower field. Judge Hendricks did not even bother to mention this contradiction, let alone try to explain it away in his final judgment.
The second reason to doubt Pakisi’s allegations is based on forensic evidence. The state’s pathologist, Dr Ruweida Moorad, found that the most remarkable thing about Moshoeu’s injuries was that there were none to the palms, hands, or wrists. His injuries were consistent with a tuck-and-roll type fall, but not with a palms-out dive.
And yet, in court, Pakisi described seeing Moshoeu ‘fly’ from the bakkie, in a swimmer’s dive position, horizontally extended with head lower than feet, arms and hands extended out ahead to break his fall – exactly the position ruled out by the lack of hand-wrist injuries that Dr. Moorad found so significant. This contradiction notwithstanding, Hendricks found that Dr. Moorad ‘corroborated’ Pakisi’s story.