A LIMPOPO farmer has paid a family R75 000 for killing a 14-year-old boy, but Gift Mpangeni’s mother has vowed not to touch the money, saying Piet Swart should serve a jail sentence.
Last October, Swart, 57, shot Gift in the back of the head, killing him. He was charged with murder, but the Groblersdal Regional Court last week gave him a five-year suspended sentence and ordered him to pay R75 000 to the boy’s family.
Swart’s sentences came after the prosecution team changed the charge of murder to that of culpable homicide.
As a result of this, the court found that Swart had no intention to kill Gift, who was hit in the head as he and three friends tried to flee.
Gift and his three friends, who lived on a farm neighbouring Swart’s were fishing in a dam on Swart’s farm without permission. According to Limpopo police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Ronel Otto, Swart fired a single shot and a shotgun pellet hit Gift at the back of the head. The other pellet hit one of Gift’s friends, Lucky Zitha, 18, on the hand.
“Even today, I still don’t understand why he had to shoot at the boys. He did not even bother to come to us and apologise and I don’t think I will forgive him if he were to apologise now,” Gift’s mother, Alizira Mpangeni, said.
Now Mpangeni, with the help of Cosatu is to appeal the sentence, which Cosatu has described as “embarrassing”.
Speaking to Independent Newspapers, Mpangeni said the family only got to know about the fine when police asked for their banking details.
Mpangeni broke down and cried twice as she recounted that fateful afternoon. She said she would not use the R100 000 which Swart deposited into her husband’s bank account. Of the money deposited, R25 000 must go to the family of the boy shot in the hand. “I want Swart to go to jail for… life,” she said.
Mpangeni said she misses her son. “He liked to sing so much. Every day when he returned from school, he would first wash the dishes before going on to play. He never complained. It’s hurting so much and it’s going to take me time to forget him,” she added.
The National Prosecuting Authority has defended its decision to change the murder case to culpable homicide. Spokesman Medupe Simasiku, said this was because the prosecution could not prove that Swart had intended to kill Gift.
“Remember that for a case to be presented as that of murder, one of the elements we need to prove is intention,” said Simasiku. “Unfortunately and sadly, a person (Gift) died as a result of a pellet, not live ammunition as a ballistics report (showed),” said Simasiku.
But Cosatu’s provincial secretary Dan Sebabi said the federation would help the family to appeal the court judgment and sentence. “You know the rich will always take advantage of the poor. We can’t let people kill others like flies,” he said.
Mpangeni said no one had discussed the settlement with her, instead the police just asked for the bank account. Simasiku said the families were consulted.
Zitha said after the shooting, Gift collapsed and died on the scene and he and two other friends escaped. The palm of his left hand still has scars from the shot. Zitha said the other two boys had gone home to Mozambique.
Swart was charged for attempted murder for Zitha’s shooting but the prosecution changed it to assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. He pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and assault charges.