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The SA Human Rights Commission believes the killing of a teenager by a Limpopo farmer was racially motivated and that the justice system has compromised the case.
Piet Swart was given a suspended five-year sentence last week by the Groblersdal Regional Court for killing Gift Mpangeni, 14, last October.
“On the face of it, it may appear as if Mr Swart’s conduct was racially motivated,” said SAHRC spokesman Isaac Mangena.
Gift was shot in the back of the head and his friend Lucky Zitha was shot in a hand, but survived.
Gift and three friends were fleeing from Swart, who had found them fishing at his dam without permission. The four teens stayed with their parents at a farm neighbouring Swart’s.
Swart was initially charged with murder, but the prosecution team changed the charge to culpable homicide.
The prosecution said it was impossible to prove that Swart had intended to kill Gift. The teenager died as a result of being hit by a shotgun pellet.
A spokesman for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, North Gauteng, Medupe Simasiku, said an intention to kill Gift would have been proved if Swart had used live ammunition.
On Wednesday, the SAHRC criticised the handling of the case.
“It is important to note that if cases like this are not handled properly, they create hatred and divisions among community members, and the same if they are handled properly, they also contribute to nation-building,” Mangena said.
Gift’s death has angered his family and Cosatu, which has vowed to help the family appeal against the sentence.
Swart pleaded guilty to a culpable homicide charge and has paid R75 000 to Gift’s family, as instructed by the court. But Gift’s mother refuses to accept the money.
The attempted murder charge relating to the shooting of Gift’s friend Lucky was changed to a charge of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
For this, Swart has paid R25 000 to Lucky’s family.
The SAHRC said the fleeing boys had posed no threat to Swart’s life.
“There was no need for him to pull the trigger,” said Mangena.
“The SAHRC will continue working very hard with other stakeholders to ensure that all offenders of racially motivated crimes are brought to book,” he added. - The Star