Coligny community not ready to reconcile with ‘sunflower killers’

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The community of Coligny in the North West say they won’t reconcile with murderers of Matlhomola Moshoeu. Moshoeu, who was 16 at the time, was killed in 2017 by farmers Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte for allegedly stealing sunflowers on their farm.

His death triggered racial tensions in the small farming town. Angry residents set fire to homes and businesses that belonged to white people.

The teen would have turned 18 in December. His loss has caused pain to his parents. His mother, Agnes Moshoeu, says that even the witness lives in fear of the killers.

“People can reconcile, but with these people, we will never. Even the witness, Pakisi, lives in fear. He came to me and told me that he is scared because those people are out on bail and they carry guns wherever they go. He doesn’t feel safe.”

Moshoeu’s parents say it hurts their family that the convicted murderers have not made attempts to apologise to them. His father, Sakie Dingake says the killers owe his son an apology.

“We will never forgive them. Our child is no more. He is the person they owe an apology. Maybe if they or their families tried reaching out to us to apologise, we would be feeling better, so we can heal.”

The open field which was once a farm, where Moshoeu was accused of stealing a sunflower, is located a stone’s throw away from Moshoeu’s home. It is a bitter reminder for his family and the community.

Residents of Coligny say time for reconciliation has not yet come.

“We are not going to forgive those people. Those people must go to jail; they killed. So if the law doesn’t take them back to the cell, we are going to do more. You will see, the whole place will burn. I’m not joking.”

Doorewaard and Schutte were sentenced to 18 and 23 years in jail respectively. In May 2019, they were denied leave to appeal their sentences in the North West High Court in Mmabatho. But later their lawyers, through the civil rights organisation AfriForum led by Advocate Gerrie Nel, directly petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn the conviction and sentence.

They are currently out on R20 000 bail each.